Katana Ownership In 2023

Katana Ownership In 2023

Recently we had a run in with Rugby Police after Jamie purchased some knives online. I will try and explain this in full as it’s quite complicated and I keep having to repeat myself about the situation. On the 26/07/2023 I purchased a collection of knives off of someone on Facebook and went and collected a box full of about 60 knives, some Nunchaku and a few bowie knives. Upon getting the box home I started going through the knives and found two that I knew were illegal under the Offensive Weapons Act so I told the people I was with (Kim & Marco) and said I would hand them into the Police the next morning. The following morning (27/07/2023) I woke up to messages from the guy I purchased the knives from saying the Police had been in contact with him. I told him I would take the illegal knives back to him to hand them into the Police and dropped them off.

Upon returning to my house there were 8 Police officers outside (4 cars worth) and they wanted to look at the knives I had in my possession. I went and grabbed the box and gave it to the Police to go through it. Upon opening the box it became immediately apparent that the Police did not know the law surrounding the Offensive Weapons Act as they stated that normal bowie knives were “zombie knives”, said basic lock knives were completely illegal and seized everything including 4 sets of Nunchaku that were in the box. Their reasoning for this was that they didn’t have the time to go through all of them then and there and they didn’t know the law properly when it came to knife ownership so they needed to be looked at by an expert. These knives weren’t illegal the only one I can think of that was questionable was some sort of cheap 3 bladed lock knife a bit like a Shuriken which I would have happily given them to be destroyed. Regardless they seized the knives and then turned their attention towards two of my Katana that were in my living room in a URUFU sword bag. One of the Katana was an Iaitō (blunt) and the other one a Shinken (Sharp) which I had only recently purchased for Tameshigiri (Test Cutting). I explained that I have a legal exemption to own Katana under section 141 of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 and showed them I have insurance but the Police insisted the law had changed (Which it hasn’t!) and forced me to surrender my Katana under the threat of them seizing them instead which would take me months to get them back. The agreement with the Police was that I would attend a voluntary interview the following day (28/07/2023) and get my swords back by Monday (31/07/2023) so I accepted their terms believing I would get my swords back in the next few days. 

However, It’s now the 20/08/2023 and my Katana have still not been returned to me! From what I understand from the seller of the knives the Police did his voluntary interview on the 27/07/2023 and in short his solicitor made the Police look stupid by showing exactly how little they understood about the law. He demonstrated that the majority of the knives I was sold were not illegal and the Police agreed they would return the knives to the seller but he has also not had anything returned yet. 

The officer at Rugby Police station dealing with my swords wants me attend a voluntary interview but has cancelled 3 times (28/07, 04/08, 14/08) and now hasn’t even booked another interview as she has been off duty for almost two weeks apparently. She is also stating that my voluntary interview i not to discuss my items being returned but to further instigations (I think she meant investigations) into whether a crime has been committed. A crime hasn’t been committed though this has already been established with my solicitor who believes the Police are out of their depth dealing with the complexities of the Offensive Weapons Act and simply don’t want to return my swords or the knives and Nunchaku. 

I couldn’t be more qualified to fall under the exemption, I run Seal Martial Arts in Rugby, I teach 2 styles of swordsmanship, I have live blade insurance cover specifically to teach Tameshigiri (Test Cutting), Founded 2 martial arts systems, I’m registered with BMABA (British Martial Arts & Boxing Association), I can build and restore Nihontō (Japanese Swords) and I have lots of connections in the martial arts and outdoor equipment industries. If I don’t qualify for the legal exemption I honestly don’t know who does!

I have provided the Police with proof of all of this and even given them a police notice issued by BMABA telling them to get in contact directly with them to confirm my live blade insurance is in place. The Police are being obstructive and not following the law as it’s stated in the Offensive Weapons Act instead choosing to prolong the issue in what I can only guess is the hope that I will give up and tell them to keep my swords. That IS NOT going to happen though!

I don’t see how I can be conforming to the law but the Police can take my martial arts equipment regardless which I need to teach students in the dojo. I haven't committed a crime I simply bought someones knife collection off of Facebook but the Police are damn sure insinuating that I’m some sort of criminal. 

Even my solicitor has been struggling to make any contact with the officer in question at the Rugby Police station trying repeatedly to email and call her. It’s totally unprofessional behaviour from Rugby Police, My solicitor is simply trying to confirm that legally I haven’t committed a crime and to arrange this voluntary interview so that I can get my property back. 

So in conclusion be careful if you own Katana in the UK at the moment as the Police don’t follow the law regardless of whether you fall under the legal exemption as a professional martial arts instructor or not. They simply see a “weapon” and want to remove it from your possession. I get the feeling that I will eventually get my swords back as I am conforming to the law but the Police are not going to make it a simple process as they don’t want me to have them. The fact is they came into my home without a warrant and I hadn’t committed a crime, I just bought some knives online. 

They did weirdly leave me with 2 bowies and a KA-BAR but took the other knives which were smaller at about 3”- 6” folders so I don’t understand their reasoning behind that one! The annoying thing is if I had simply put my swords away after teaching this situation never would have happened so I guess there is a lesson in there somewhere.