Civilian possession of pepper spray is banned in the UK, due to its use in self-defence.

There are, of course, many household items that can have a similar purpose. While not nearly as effective, no attacker wants a face full of deodorant or disinfectant spray.

Is there a law against carrying items with an intent to use them in such a way?

  • Slight edit: Police and other law enforcement agencies are allowed to lawfully possess pepper spray (and similar items such as PAVA) if properly authorised etc.
    – Rock Ape
    Mar 12 at 18:25
  • 1
    @RockApe Fair enough. I mentally include "unless you are a police officer" to most questions like this but the clarity helps.
    – Unfair-Ban
    Mar 12 at 20:40

Is there a law against carrying items with an intent to use them in such a way?


The offence is possession of an offence weapon in a public place contrary s.1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953

(1) Any person who without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, the proof whereof shall lie on him, has with him in any public place any offensive weapon shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding £200, or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding four years or a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, or both.

“offensive weapon” means any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use by him or by some other person.

There are similar provisions (with subtle differences) in and at s.47 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 and s.93 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 respectively.

  • 1
    Sounds like a bit of a misnomer, calling it the "prevention" of crime act when it just encourages it. +1, will almost certainly accept later.
    – Unfair-Ban
    Mar 12 at 10:55
  • 1
    The 1953 Act only extends to E&W so I've added its tag for precision.
    – Rock Ape
    Mar 12 at 11:14
  • Fair enough. Now I'm interested if Scots law is noteably different.
    – Unfair-Ban
    Mar 12 at 11:21
  • Can we just merge the two, since they're essentially the same?
    – Unfair-Ban
    Mar 12 at 11:36
  • 2
    "intended by the person" is difficult to prove. So does "made or adapted for use for causing injury" mean that if I carry a packet of Bangalore curry sauce (made for eating, and not adapted), there is no case against me? Mar 12 at 13:22

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