While camping can offer plenty of fun and some time away from the stresses in life, there are certain dangers we must consider including location, equipment, and weather. In addition to this, many have questions over the UK knife laws; the last thing you want on a camping trip is to be arrested for being in possession of an illegal knife. In this short guide, we want to ease some concerns and provide you with a little insight into the laws so you can be confident in your next trip!
Before getting into the minutiae of UK knife laws, we should note that there is leniency for common sense. For example, the phrase ‘good reason’ is used in law which means that some knives can be carried as long as there is a legitimate reason for doing so; as is the case with camping. Furthermore, the term ‘public place’ is also used and this includes any location where the public may come into contact with one another; a private campsite would be included in this.
Let’s start with blade length since this is the question most people have. Currently, the law suggests that carrying a folding pocket knife for the purpose of camping, hiking, or this sort of activity, is fine so long as the blade is under three inches and there is no locking mechanism. Of course, the term ‘carrying’ is applied loosely here since it should remain with all other equipment (as opposed to your pocket). If you venture away from the campsite, perhaps to visit a pub or you just fancy taking a long walk, getting caught with a knife in your pocket will always be questionable since you’re out of the context where it’s appropriate. If you keep the knife with other equipment, such as in a toolbox, the likelihood of encountering problems is reduced.
In terms of anything larger than three inches that doesn’t fold up, you’re walking on thin ground unless it is genuinely required for something like gardening. In the context of camping, we recommend sticking with a small folding pocket knife while storing it with all your other camping equipment.
Swiss Army Knives? Multi Tools?
To reiterate a previous point, any knife with any sort of locking mechanism is not allowed and this applies to multi tools too. With regards to a Swiss Army knife, the same laws apply in that the knife cannot be longer than three inches and it cannot have a locking mechanism. With knife crime seemingly in the news every week, these laws have been introduced for public safety and getting caught with a locking knife with no good reason can lead to a potential four years in prison (after one warning). The Home Office offers a full list of banned knives which includes flick knives, butterfly knives, disguised knives, stealth knives, gravity knives, and push daggers.
Summary – Initially, reading this can lead to some anxiety but we lead you back to the ‘common sense’ rule. As long as you have a pocket knife smaller than three inches, it doesn’t have a lock, and you keep it with your camping equipment, there’s no reason why you’ll run into trouble. After your camping trip, remember to store the knife with your camping gear rather than leaving it in the car since you’ll no longer have a ‘good reason’ to be carrying it.
To finish, we’d like to state that we’re NOT lawyers and that this is our interpretation of the UK laws on knives. If you have specific questions or concerns, please feel free to contact a lawyer or get in touch with the correct government department!