New knife law compromise sought to protect Sheffield manufacturers

A Sheffield MP hopes to reach a compromise over a new knife law which manufacturers in the city fear could decimate business.

The Offensive Weapons Bill, now going through parliament, aims to reduce spiralling rates of knife crime in the UK.

MPs Clive Betts and Paul Blomfield with (second from left) James Goodwin of Egginton Group and (second from right) Alastair Fisher of Taylors Eye Witness

MPs Clive Betts and Paul Blomfield with (second from left) James Goodwin of Egginton Group and (second from right) Alastair Fisher of Taylors Eye Witness

But Sheffield firms fear the proposed ban on knives being delivered to people’s homes, which is designed to prevent them falling into the wrong hands, could drastically impact sales.

READ MORE: Sheffield manufacturers meet minister over ‘crazy’ new knife laws

Sheffield MPs Paul Blomfield and Clive Betts joined Alastair Fisher of Taylor’s Eye Witness and James Goodwin of Egginton Group at a meeting with Home Office minister Victoria Atkins this week to discuss their concerns.

Following the meeting, Mr Blomfield said: “We pressed our proposals with the minister and made clear the shortcomings we identified in the bill. We explained why the bill would damage local companies and fail to achieve its objectives.

“There was a robust exchange of views, which raised issues on which the minister agreed to follow up. She’s also agreed to continue discussions as the Bill progresses through the Lords, so I hope that we’ll be able to reach agreement.”

READ MORE: Sheffield cutlery keeps place at parliamentary tables after battle

Mr Blomfield said manufacturers support the bill’s objectives but fear there will be unintended consequences for responsible businesses.

He has proposed a ‘trusted trader’ scheme to enable those firms to continue delivering to customers' homes, which he says he is working with former home secretary David Blunkett to get included as an amendment to the bill as it passes through the House of Lords.

Under the bill, as it stands, knives ordered for personal use would have to be collected so the customer’s age could be checked.

READ MORE: UK ‘depends on Sheffield’s success’ says business secretary Greg Clark

Deliveries to businesses would not be affected.

The Home Office says that, following ‘extensive’ consultation, the bill does contain exemptions for items like table knives and bespoke products.

In a statement, it said: “Knife crime destroys lives and communities and our Offensive Weapons Bill forms a vital part of the Government’s efforts to keep people safe.

“It is not against the law to sell a knife online, and the bill is not changing this, but it is a criminal offence to sell one to a person under the age of 18.

“The bill makes sure any knives ordered online will need to be collected from a place where age verification can take place to prevent the underage sales of knives.”