Law to reduce knife crime could harm Sheffield cutlery industry

A proposed bill to prohibit the sale of knives could lead to Sheffield cutlery manufacturers and retailers losing business.

Amid problems with growing knife crime rates, the Offensive Weapons Bill would make it a criminal offense to deliver knives and bladed objects to residential properties, with the exception of bespoke bladed objects used for sporting or re-enactment purposes.

The Bill also looks to impose age verification procedures when selling bladed objects.

Sheffield is seen as the biggest cutlery manufacturing city in the UK, and the new legislation could seriously hamper the business of many of these firms.

John Adams owns J. Adams Cutlery, a family business spanning five generations, and is worried about the impact this may have on his business.

He said: “Knives are made for a purpose, to do a job, not for attacking people. 99.9% of people who buy our knives buy them for industrial reasons or they are collectors. This new rule would not stop crime but it could stop our business.”

He added: “We already do all we can to verify our customers’ name and age, but this law could really run our trade to the ground and we would have to lay off some of our experienced workers.”

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield has secured a meeting between Sheffield steel manufacturers and a Home Office minister in the coming days.

Mr Blomfield said: “We have a serious problem with knife crime. We need serious solutions, but we need the right solutions.

“Large retailers might well be able to deal with age-verified collection easily and with little impact on cost, but smaller manufacturers which use the internet to reach niche markets will struggle.”

Earlier this year, South Yorkshire Police launched the ‘Sheffield City Knife Crime Strategy’ to combat the rising problem in the city.

MP Paul Blomfield thinks the legislation is the incorrect way to approach the situation and believes the provision has loopholes.

Speaking in Parliament last week, he said: “Under the provisions, a sword could be delivered to a residential property, but one of my local manufacturers’ steak knives could not.”

Blomfield wrote to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to outline that manufacturers in Sheffield make knives that are used for a huge range of legitimate and necessary purposes, including kitchen knives for chefs and cable stripping knives for electricians.

The combined effort of Paul Blomfield and leaders of the manufacturers has delayed the Bill, and they are aiming to alter the wording of the statute, but the issue remains uncertain.