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Thursday October 23
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10:17

Is it illegal to carry a knife around in my pocket?

It's illegal to carry any sharp or bladed instrument in a public place, with the exception of a folding pocket knife which has a blade less than 7.62 cm (3 inches) long.

A lock knife is not a folding pocket knife and therefore it's illegal to carry around regardless of the length of the blade.

A lock knife means a knife which is similar to a folding knife, in that there is a spring holding the blade closed. However, a lock knife has a mechanism which locks the blade in position when fully extended and the blade cannot be closed without that mechanism being released. A lock knife is not automatically an offensive weapon because these knives were made with a specific purpose in mind and not as a weapon. However, possession of a lock knife in a public place without reasonable excuse is an offence.

Possession of a multi-tool incorporating a prohibited blade or pointed article is capable of being an offence under this section even if there are other tools on the instrument which may be of use to a person in a public place.

The ban is not total, but it's for the person in possession of such an instrument to prove on the balance of probabilities that he or she had good reason for its possession. For example, someone backpacking across the Lake District may reasonably be expected to have a knife for the preparation of meals. It will be far more difficult to justify on the streets of a city or town, but there will be occasions when someone is genuinely going to something like a martial arts class or scout meeting.

The penalty for committing this offence is a maximum prison sentence of four years.