Countryside Alliance Chief Executive, Tim Bonner, has written to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, to express concerns that new proposals to restrict online knife sales could adversely affect rural communities without any evidence that the proposals will reduce knife crime.
The Home Office proposals, announced on 18 July, would require knives purchased online to be collected from a shop. The proposals would require a change in the law which currently allows knives purchased online to be sent in the post to purchasers, provided that proof of age is obtained on delivery. It is illegal to purchase most types of field knives below the age of 18.
The Countryside Alliance has raised concerns that the proposals will not be practical for many people in rural areas, or significantly inconvenience them. Long distances to the nearest town, combined with limited public transport, and high fuel costs, mean that the proposals to require knives purchased online to be collected from a shop (likely to be located in an urban area), will have a much greater impact on people in rural communities than those in towns and cities.
The Countryside Alliance recognises the problem of knife crime and fully supports efforts to reduce it, which must include tackling underage purchasing of knives. However, it is important that proposals to tackle knife crime are effective, without adversely affecting rural communities.
Head of Policy, Sarah Lee, commented: “as with all policies, it is important that proposals to tackle knife crime, are subject to rural proofing to ensure that the requirements of people in rural areas are not overlooked. Knives are used by many people involved in farming and country sports, and yet it is these people who will be most affected by the proposals. We encourage the Government to consider the use of online age verification, and develop existing voluntary schemes, before any change in the law is brought forward.”