The Countryside Alliance has concerns about some of the measures the Home Office intends to bring forward as part of the Offensive Weapons Bill.

While we await the detail, the Home Office has announced headline intentions to restrict the purchasing and possession of knives and certain types of firearm which may have unintended consequences for the rural community if the measures are imprecisely drafted.

The Home Office press release outlining the proposed measures can be found here

Any measure to stop knives being delivered to residential addresses will disproportionately affect the rural community, who have less access to proposed collection points and also have a diverse range of legitimate uses for specialist knives that can often only be readily sourced online.

A ban on the possession of knives on further education premises would have clear implications for land based campuses, on which knives are used on a daily basis to deliver education in subjects such as agriculture, horticulture, countryside management and conservation.

The Alliance raised both of these issues in our response to the Home Office Consultation, and we hope our concerns will be addressed in the detail of this Bill when it is made public.

Similarly, the Alliance were vocal in our concerns over proposals to restrict .50 calibre rifles and “rapid fire rifles”. Representatives from the Alliance met with the Home Officer Minister to point out the complexity of firearms and the risks inherent in badly worded legislation.

We highlighted the diverse range of .50 calibre firearms that exist and the need for any future legislation to be precise to avoid inadvertently affecting the hunting and stalking community. The Minister accepted the need to ensure that lawful stalking and pest control were able to continue unaffected which included the need to clearly define the proposals to ensure there were no unintended consequences of any change in the law. To that end the Minister gave an assurance that the Home Office would produce clear definitions and guidelines before any new restrictions of large or rapid-fire rifles were introduced.

The Alliance now waits to see whether these assurances have been carried forward into this proposed Offensive Weapons Bill.