The new Dangerous Weapons Act will hopefully make it easier for the police to protect the public from any breach of the “peacefully and unarmed” requirement.
Anyone participating in a public gathering or demonstration is prohibited, on pain of up to 3 years’ imprisonment, from being in possession of any –
- Imitation firearm,
- Object resembling and likely to be mistaken for a firearm,
- Airgun, or
- “Dangerous weapon” (defined as being any object other than a firearm capable of causing death or inflicting serious bodily harm if used for an unlawful purpose).
Something that trade unions* in particular need to be aware of is their potential liability in this regard – the “convener” of the gathering, plus any marshals, are obliged to take “all reasonable steps” to ensure that these requirements are complied with. (* 24% of all employees belong to a trade union, the percentage rising to 78% in the mining and quarrying sector.)
These prohibitions do not apply to lawful activities by collectors and law enforcers, nor to participation in religious, cultural, sports, recreation or entertainment activities. Take specific advice if you aren’t sure whether you or your event fall into one of these categories.