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United Kingdom: Proposed Regulations Would Provide Amnesty and Compensation for Weapons Prohibited under 2019 Law

(Oct. 21, 2020) The draft of new regulations aimed at helping to ensure the safe surrender of weapons whose possession was made unlawful under the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 was laid before the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Parliament on June 9, 2020. If approved, the Surrender of Offensive Weapons (Compensation) Regulations 2020 will

set out arrangements for the payment of compensation to the lawful owners of certain offensive weapons and firearms who surrender these in accordance with arrangements set out by the Secretary of State before their ownership becomes prohibited by virtue of … the Offensive Weapons Act 2019.

The minister for crime and policing has recognized that prohibiting items that were previously lawful “impacts … the individual’s right to property” and that the lawful owners of the weapons “should be fairly compensated for the loss of their property.”

The surrender period would occur over a three-month period once the regulations are approved, enabling owners of the newly designated unlawful firearms and “offensive weapons” to hand them over to police and simultaneously claim compensation by submitting to the police a completed compensation claim form. Standard levels of compensation would be set under the program, but any person surrendering a weapon could claim a higher amount by supporting their application with a credible valuation. The program for compensation for unlawful firearms extends to the entire UK, while the compensation program for offensive weapons extends only to England and Wales. In all instances, the Home Office would be responsible for processing claims.

The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 was enacted to “protect public safety by limiting the availability of certain offensive weapons and firearms to prevent their use in violent offences.” The 2019 act was passed to counter a rise in violent crimes involving knives and other weapons, and prohibits the ownership of these weapons.

The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 and the draft regulations are part of the government’s plan to tackle serious violence. Other plans from the Home Secretary include a significant increase in funding for the police force to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers over the next three years, along with new powers to make it easier for the police to stop and search individuals who are known for carrying knives.