I would like to know if it is legal to import a whip to England, for use as decoration.

According to a UK Government Webpage

Offensive weapons which are designed to kill or inflict serious injury and do not have a legitimate use are banned or restricted from being imported into the UK.

However, the C2-26 Offensive Weapons Guidance Document states that

The prohibition on the importation of offensive weapons is established by the following legislation:

-Restriction of Offensive Weapons Acts 1959 to 1961; (the importation of any such knife as described is hereby prohibited)

-Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) - Order 1988, 2002 and 2004; Section 141(4) states: “The importation of a weapon to which this section applies is hereby prohibited.”

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Orders 1988, 2002 and 2004 prohibit the possession and importation of a number of weapons (knives, etc) which are all listed in the document, but whips are not on the list.

The document proceeds to state:

There is no across the board prohibition on the importation of straight bladed swords, bayonets, machetes, axes, hatchets, tomahawks, throwing knives or replica medieval weaponry such as spears, lances, pikes, maces, caltrops, and halberds. These weapons would, however, be regulated under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which prohibit the carrying of such weapons in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

This seemingly implies that weapons which are not explicitly listed are legal to import.

Furthermore, another webpage concerning customs has a customs code for whips under the tax guidance for importing leather:

whips, riding-crops, walking sticks and similar items covered in chapter 66 under heading code 6602

Thus, I would like to know:

1) Does the law only restrict the importation of weapons which are specifically designated by the above-cited laws and which are contained on that specific list?

2) If the law does not merely restrict the importation of those specific weapons, but rather restricts all offensive weapons like the Government webpage claims, is a whip considered to be an "offensive weapon designed to [...] inflict serious injury" and which does not have "legitimate use", if I wish to use it for decoration?

  • 1
    For what purpose was the whip designed? If it was designed (for example) for animal control or as a sexual toy then it arguably does not meet the definition of "offensive weapon" in the first place.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 23:17
  • @phoog Bearing in mind that a set of keys held in the hands as a punching aid can be described as an offensive weapons a whip certainly would be. Even a stone picked up off the ground can be one too. The key here is not is it an offensive weapon but is having it as a decoration at home a legitimate reason to have one.
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 15:46
  • 1
    @Sarriesfan a key is not "designed to kill or inflict serious injury," nor is a stone found on the ground. If the first quotation in the question is to be believed, objects that are not designed for one of those purposes may be imported without having to consider the question of whether they have a legitimate use, even if they may be used as offensive weapons in addition to the purpose for which they were designed.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 5:10


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