UK Knife Laws

Uk knife laws

As there still seems to be a lot of confusion around when it comes to the UK knife laws, we wanted to try and clear things up for our readers.

Our knife laws are actually pretty sensible when you look in to them and allow you to use a knife for its intended purpose. They are not meant to be used as an offensive weapon, they are a tool.

According to The Criminal Justice Act (1988) you are allowed to carry a knife that has a blade length of 3 inch or less so long as it can fold and does not lock – so no fixed blade knives for your “Every Day Carry” (EDC).

If you are stopped by the police and found to be in possession of a knife, you will only make it worse for yourself if you give them a hard time. If you believe that you are in the right, consult a solicitor afterwards to argue your case.

One part of the UK knife law that is pretty vague in its description is when it comes down to ‘reasonable cause’. You MUST have a genuine and evident reason to be carrying a knife. Claiming to have ‘forgotten’ the knife was in your pocket, just won’t do.

The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is 4 years in prison and an unlimited fine. You’ll get a prison sentence if you’re convicted of carrying a knife more than once.

Lock Knives

In the UK, lock knives are not classed as folding knives and are illegal to carry around in public. Knives that fall in to this category have blades that can be locked/folded by pressing a button. These can include multi-tool knives.

Banned Knives and Weapons

It is illegal to bring into the UK, sell, hire, lend or give anyone the following:

  • Butterfly Knives (Balisongs) – these have blades hidden inside the handles that split in the middle.
  • Disguised Knives – these are knives that are hidden inside everyday objects such as belt buckles and phones.
  • Flick Knives – these shoot a blade out from the handle when a button is pressed.
  • Gravity Knives
  • Stealth Knives – a knife or spike not made from metal (except when used at home, for food or a toy)
  • Zombie Knives – these have a cutting edge, serated edge, and images or words that suggest it to be used for violence.
  • Swords, including samurai swords – a curved blade over 50cm (with some exceptions, such as antiques and swords made to traditional methods before 1954).
  • Sword Sticks – blade hidden inside a walking stick.
  • Push Daggers
  • Blowpipes
  • Telescopic Truncheons – extend by pressing a button or spring in the handle.
  • Batons – straight, side-handled or friction-lock truncheons.
  • Hollow Kubotans – cylinder-shaped keychains holding spikes.
  • Shurikens (throwing stars)
  • Kusari-Gama – sickle attached to a rope, cord or wire.
  • Kyoketsu-Shoge – hook-knife attached to a rope, cord or wire.
  • Kusari – weight attached to a rope, cord or wire.
  • Hand/Foot Claws
  • Knuckledusters

If you are unsure as to whether a knife or weapon is legal, you should contact your local police first.

What Are Good Reasons For Carrying a Knife? 

Examples of good reasons to carry a knife or weapon in public can include:

  • Taking knives you use at work to and from work.
  • Taking it to a gallery or museum to be exhibited.
  • If it’ll be used for theatre, film, television, historical reenactment or religious purposes, for example the kirpan some Sikhs carry.
  • If it’ll be used in a demonstration or to teach someone how to use it.

If put before the courts it will ultimately be their decision as to whether you have a good enough reason for carrying it.

You can find more in-depth information at the following links:

Criminal Justice Act

Offensive Weapons Act

The Knives Act

Also check out our crossbow laws post and our stop and search post to find out what your rights are when stopped by a police officer.


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