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United Kingdom Law Regarding Crossbows

 
This is a collection of information and links relating to the use and ownership of crossbows within the United Kingdom. It may not be a complete, exhaustive or up to date and could even contain inaccuracies, so all crossbow owners or users must verify all details with the relevant authorities. We are not able to provide any legal advice regarding the use of crossbows.

 

 

Crossbows Act 1987

1987 CHAPTER 32

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1987/32

An Act to create offences relating to the sale and letting on hire of crossbows to, and the purchase, hiring and possession of crossbows by, persons under the age of seventeen; and for connected purposes.

[15th May 1987]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Sale and letting on hire.

A person who sells or lets on hire a crossbow or a part of a crossbow to a person under the age of seventeen is guilty of an offence, unless he believes him to be seventeen years of age or older and has reasonable ground for the belief.

2 Purchase and hiring.

A person under the age of seventeen who buys or hires a crossbow or a part of a crossbow is guilty of an offence.

3 Possession.

A person under the age of seventeen who has with him—

(a) a crossbow which is capable of discharging a missile, or

(b) parts of a crossbow which together (and without any other parts) can be assembled to form a crossbow capable of discharging a missile, is guilty of an offence, unless he is under the supervision of a person who is twenty-one years of age or older.

4 Powers of search and seizure etc.

(1) If a constable suspects with reasonable cause that a person is committing or has committed an offence under section 3, the constable may—

(a) search that person for a crossbow or part of a crossbow;

(b) search any vehicle, or anything in or on a vehicle, in or on which the constable suspects with reasonable cause there is a crossbow, or part of a crossbow, connected with the offence.

(2) A constable may detain a person or vehicle for the purpose of a search under subsection (1).

(3) A constable may seize and retain for the purpose of proceedings for an offence under this Act anything discovered by him in the course of a search under subsection (1) which appears to him to be a crossbow or part of a crossbow.

(4) For the purpose of exercising the powers conferred by this section a constable may enter any land other than a dwelling-house.

5 Exception.

This Act does not apply to crossbows with a draw weight of less than 1.4 kilograms.

6 Punishments.

(1) A person guilty of an offence under section 1 shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under section 2 or 3 shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(3) The court by which a person is convicted of an offence under this Act may make such order as it thinks fit as to the forfeiture or disposal of any crossbow or part of a crossbow in respect of which the offence was committed.

7 Corresponding provision for Northern Ireland.

An Order in Council under paragraph 1(1)(b) of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (legislation for Northern Ireland in the interim period) which contains a statement that it is made only for purposes corresponding to the purposes of this Act—

(a) shall not be subject to paragraph 1(4) and (5) of that Schedule (affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament), but

(b) shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

 

 

Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/38/contents#pt2-pb6-l1g44

Section 44

(Ammends various parts of the Crossbow act 1987, the most important of which raises the age that they may be purchased from 17 to 18).

44 Sale etc. of crossbows

(1) In the Crossbows Act 1987 (c. 32), in the provisions mentioned in subsection (2), for “seventeen”, in each place it occurs, substitute “eighteen”.

(2) The provisions are—

(a) section 1 (sale and letting on hire);

(b) section 2 (purchase and hiring);

(c) section 3 (possession).

 

 

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

1981 CHAPTER 69

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/69

5 Prohibition of certain methods of killing or taking wild birds. E+W

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person—

(a) sets in position any of the following articles, being an article which is of such a nature and is so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming into contact therewith, that is to say, any springe, trap, gin, snare, hook and line, any electrical device for killing, stunning or frightening or any poisonous, poisoned or stupefying substance;

(b) uses for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird any such article as aforesaid, whether or not of such a nature and so placed as aforesaid, or any net, baited board, bird-lime or substance of a like nature to bird-lime;

(c) uses for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird—

(i) any bow or crossbow;

(ii) any explosive other than ammunition for a firearm;

(iii) any automatic or semi-automatic weapon;

(iv) any shot-gun of which the barrel has an internal diameter at the mule of more than one and three-quarter inches;

(v) any device for illuminating a target or any sighting device for night shooting;

(vi) any form of artificial lighting or any mirror or other dazzling device

(vii) any gas or smoke not falling within paragraphs (a) and (b); or

(viii) any chemical wetting agent;

(d) uses as a decoy, for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird, any sound recording or any live bird or other animal whatever which is tethered, or which is secured by means of braces or other similar appliances, or which is blind, maimed or injured;

(e) uses any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a wild bird for the purpose of killing or taking that bird,; or

(f) knowingly causes or permits to be done an act which is mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this subsection and which is not lawful under subsection (5),]

he shall be guilty of an offence. . . .

 

11 Prohibition of certain methods of killing or taking wild animals.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person—

(a) sets in position or otherwise uses any self-locking snare or a snare of any other type specified in an order made by the Scottish Ministers ;

[sets in position or otherwise uses any other type of snare which is either of such a nature or so placed (or both) as to be calculated to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal coming into contact with it;

(b) uses for the purpose of killing or taking any , any bow or cross-bow or any explosive other than ammunition for a firearm; 

(c) uses as a decoy, for the purpose of killing or taking any wild animal, any live mammal or bird whatever, or

(d) knowingly causes or permits to be done an act which is mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this section, he shall be guilty of an offence.

 

 

Criminal Justice Act 1988

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/33/part/XI/crossheading/articles-with-blades-or-points-and-offensive-weapons

141 Offensive weapons.

(1) Any person who manufactures, sells or hires or offers for sale or hire, exposes or has in his possession for the purpose of sale or hire, or lends or gives to any other person, a weapon to which this section applies shall be guilty of an offence and liable

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 4 years, or to a fine, or to both.

(2) The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument direct that this section shall apply to any description of weapon specified in the order except—

(a) any weapon subject to the Firearms Act 1968; and

(b) crossbows.

 

 

Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1975/51

Part I Prohibition of Certain Modes of Taking or Destroying Fish, etc.

1 Prohibited implements.

(1) Subject to subsection (4) below, no person shall—

(a) use any of the following instruments, that is to say—

(i) a firearm within the meaning of the Firearms Act 1968;

(ii) an otter lath or jack, wire or snare;

(iii) a crossline or setline;

(iv) a spear, gaff, stroke-haul, snatch or other like instrument;

(v) a light;

for the purpose of taking or killing salmon, trout or freshwater fish;

(b) have in his possession any instrument mentioned in paragraph (a) above intending to use it to take or kill salmon, trout or freshwater fish; or

(c) throw or discharge any stone or other missile for the purpose of taking or killing, or facilitating the taking or killing of any salmon, trout or freshwater fish.

 

 

Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/45/contents/enacted

50 Drunkenness

(5) Any person who is drunk in a public place while in possession of a firearm (including a crossbow, airgun, air rifle or air pistol) shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £50.

 

Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence 

October 1999

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmhaff/uc95/uc9509.htm

G. Crossbows

Crossbows are not "firearms" for legal purposes. Setting aside those rare types of crossbow that possess a barrel, they are not therefore subject to the Firearms Acts 1968-97 but are controlled under separate legislation.

WHAT IS A CROSSBOW?

A crossbow is a form of bow in which the bow-stave (prod) is fixed crosswise to a stock. The bow can then be spanned back by hand or by means of a lever or windlass, and the string held in place by a catch that is released by a trigger to shoot an arrow, bolt or quarrel. The crossbow was used in hunting and warfare in medieval times, being slower to reload than a longbow but requiring less strength to draw. Traditionally they were popular on the Continent, the English favouring the longbow. Crossbows fell into disuse for these purposes during the Sixteenth Century with the development of muzzle-loading firearms, but in recent decades they have been revived for target shooting purposes.

LEGISLATION

The main legislation in this area is the Crossbows Act 1987. This applies to those crossbows with a draw weight of 1.4 kilograms or greater. It makes it an offence to sell or hire such a crossbow to any young person under the age of 17, both for buyer and seller, and prohibits any young person under 17 from possessing a crossbow or its components unless supervised by someone aged 21 or over.

Crossbows may also be considered potentially "offensive weapons" for the purposes of section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953. This makes it an offence to possess any offensive weapon in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, proof whereof lies on the individual. An offensive weapon is defined as any article made or adapted for causing injury to the person. While a target crossbow may not be an offensive weapon as such, people found in possession of a crossbow in a public place might be charged on the same basis as if they had a knife, club or other similar weapon with them.

LEGITIMATE USES

There are no official statistics on the number of crossbows in lawful circulation in the UK. The vast majority are used lawfully and safely for target shooting purposes. Hunting animals with any sort of bow in the UK is unlawful.

CRIMINAL MISUSE

Anecdotally, it is apparent that crossbows have been used for poaching and to injure wildlife, and occasionally in other crime. Figures for this misuse are not collected centrally, but levels of misuse are thought to be low and not to have risen in recent years.

CONCLUSIONS

As with other provisions dealing with offensive weapons, the Government continues to keep this area under review. However, the Government is not aware of any evidence that the misuse of crossbows is either a substantial or a growing problem. On this basis the Government has no current plans to change the law in this area.

October 1999

 

 

Hales (2006) A guide to and review of Home Office gun crime statistics

http://www.port.ac.uk/departments/academic/icjs/staff/documentation/filetodownload,66240,en.pdf

Footnote 5 to section 2, page 3

Interestingly, the Home Office guidance note for CrimSec30 (see Appendix C) also mentions that harpoon/spear guns, tag guns and crossbows should not be considered ‘firearms’, although only the first item is mentioned in the ‘Firearms Law’ publication (Home Office, 2002).

Page 40

The following are not regarded as firearms for the purposes of the Firearms Act 1968 and incidents involving these weapons should not be notified on forms Crimsec 30 or 30A:
Crimsec30 guidancea CPG WP6
Nail (etc) guns "Hilti" guns, hot air guns, alarm guns, line throwing equipment, flares etc (except Very guns), devices for firing nets to trap birds, harpoon/spear guns, tag guns (such as Kimble or Dennison) and crossbows.

 

 

Further Information

The National Crossbow Federation of Great Britain

http://www.ncf-crossbow.co.uk

Safety and Guidance leaflet http://www.ncf-crossbow.co.uk/downloads/Crossbow%20Advisory%20Leaflet.pdf

 

 

 

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