Author Topic: When is an Allotment a 'Public Place'.......... And when not............?  (Read 8220 times)

Nigel B

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I started the thread to discuss the implications of the law and your Allotment tool-kit.'

The quotes below start the discussion. I'll fill in the details as they become available to me.....


 
Interesting 'discussion'.
Are Allotments Public Places?

I say No! Absolutely not.
I also say (but the police seem to differ)  that carrying my gardening 'penknife', in fact a small lock-knife with a 2" (50mm) blade, is not an illegal act. Nor is using it to cut string, etc.
At our Allotments we have to pass through 4 sets of gates before entering the Allotments themselves and pay for, not only our rents and water bill, but also for the key that lets us gain access!
Still, the charge-sheet reads, 'possession of a knife with a lockable-blade in a public place.....' (Not 'With Intent', I might add.)

We'll see, I suppose. At public expense too. :-
What a load of c**p!
It might be an idea to start a separate thread for this Nigel as it's a serious issue for very many allotmenteers, but to offer a brief suggestion:  I'm guessing from what you've said that you've been charged under S.139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1998 with having a blade with you in a public place?

Whether your allotment is a "public place" within the meaning of the act depends on whether the public are permitted access to it and that's something the jury would decide on the facts, but if the site wasn't open to uninvited visitors when you had the knife on you and it's fenced and gated then no, that's not a "public place".

Of course if you've carried the knife through a public place to get to the allotment then there's the problem.

However, you have a defence if you can prove on the balance of probability that you had the knife for a good reason, such as if you had some string on you and you were obviously on your way to the allotment to tie up your dahlias.

You've got legal representation, right?  They haven't started court action, right?
"Carry on therefore with your good work.  Do not rest on your spades, except for those brief periods which are every gardeners privilege."

Allotments 4 All


lewic

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Eh? The police stopped you on your allotment for having gardening tools? I'd contact the Daily Mail newsdesk (I hate the paper but they love stuff like this) and all your local papers. Then let it go to court and laugh when the cops are made to look complete fools.

Bugloss2009

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surely it's a 3 inch blade or above, with intent, without good reason etc anyway...............

Unwashed

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The specific question is whether an allotment is a "public place" within the meaning of S.139 Criminal Justice Act 1988 - that's the section that makes it a criminal offence to have a bladed article "in a public place".  The act says:

Quote
(7)  In this section “public place” includes any place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted access, whether on payment or otherwise.

There's been some case law, on this section and on the same definition used in other legislation.  See for example Bogdal which reviews other decisions too.

It's unlikely that your plot is ever a "public place" unless you've actually put up a sign inviting people to walk about on your plot.

Whether the common areas of the site is a "public place" depends on the circumstances.  If the site has a sign on the entrance inviting people just to walk in off the street and look around then that's likely a "public place" (at least at the times when the site is open for visitors).  If the site is fenced with a locked gate that's very unlikely to be a "public place".  It comes down to whether the public have free access, and that really means that they're welcome to walk around - that they can physically gain access isn't enough.  Whether an unfenced site is a "public place" isn't so clear and it would come down to whether in practice the public were welcome to walk around, and the jury or magistrates would have to decide that on the facts.

Bear in mind that S.139 makes it an offence to carry a bladed article in a public place without good cause, so in principle there's no problem going to the allotment with a knife, or for that matter an axe, machete, slasher, and bill hook if you need those tools, but the burden of proof is on you to show good reason.

There is however an exception for folding pocket knives with a blade less than 3" long so it's not a bad idea to use that rather than a fixed bladed knife or lock knife as you don't then need to prove good cause.

But do be careful about carrying anything else with a blade of any kind (and in principle this includes lawn mowers!) because if you can't prove on the balance of probability that you're carrying it for a good reason then you may well be prosecuted.
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Unwashed

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surely it's a 3 inch blade or above, with intent, without good reason etc anyway...............
No, any kind of lock knife is caught by the legislation, the exemption is only ofr folding knives with blades less than 3" long.

There's no requirement to show intent, it's simply the act of having the bladed article with you in a public place that creates the offence.

Here's the section:
Quote
139 Offence of having article with blade or point in public place.
(1)Subject to subsections (4) and (5) below, any person who has an article to which this section applies with him in a public place shall be guilty of an offence.
(2)Subject to subsection (3) below, this section applies to any article which has a blade or is sharply pointed except a folding pocketknife.
(3)This section applies to a folding pocketknife if the cutting edge of its blade exceeds 3 inches.
(4)It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he had good reason or lawful authority for having the article with him in a public place.
(5)Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (4) above, it shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he had the article with him—(a)for use at work;(b)for religious reasons; or(c)as part of any national costume.
(6)A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) above shall be liable-[F1(a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both;(b)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding [F2four] years, or a fine, or both.]
(7)In this section “public place” includes any place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted access, whether on payment or otherwise.
(8)This section shall not have effect in relation to anything done before it comes into force.
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OllieC

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I raised this a while ago & thought we concluded that as long as it's a fixed blade & the blade is less than 3 inches long, you're okay - my main concern was getting there & back, not being there with it. The police aren't there to use their common sense - they have targets to meet.

Bugloss2009

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I meant 3in folding. Matey said his was 2in........If he was stopped outside the allotment then whether it's  public place is ommaterial. If he was stopped inside, then i struggle to take it seriously

Unwashed

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I meant 3in folding. Matey said his was 2in........If he was stopped outside the allotment then whether it's  public place is ommaterial. If he was stopped inside, then i struggle to take it seriously
Nigel's knife was a lock-knife, and lock-knives aren't considered to be folding knives as they can't be folded at any time.
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Unwashed

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I raised this a while ago & thought we concluded that as long as it's a fixed blade & the blade is less than 3 inches long, you're okay - my main concern was getting there & back, not being there with it. The police aren't there to use their common sense - they have targets to meet.
No, the exemption is for folding knives with a blade less than 3", fixed-bladed knives are caught by the legislation.

In fairness to the police they have to work within the legislation, and the legislation catches rather a broad category of "bladed articles".  Someone was even convicted of having the handle-less blade of a blunt round-ended butter knife, but it had a blade and the appeal court said that's what the legislation wanted prosecuting.  Blame parliament.
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OllieC

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Man, I hate this - thought I'd understood it last time - when it says in your quote, "(3)This section applies to a folding pocketknife if the cutting edge of its blade exceeds 3 inches.", I took it to mean a folding knife is wrong. You're saying a fixed knife is wrong?

OllieC

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Here we are - and you very clearly said the exemption applies to folding knives - I must've misread it at the time.

http://www.allotments4all.co.uk/smf/index.php/topic,57718.0.html

Unwashed

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Man, I hate this - thought I'd understood it last time - when it says in your quote, "(3)This section applies to a folding pocketknife if the cutting edge of its blade exceeds 3 inches.", I took it to mean a folding knife is wrong. You're saying a fixed knife is wrong?
Yes.  It's don't do what Donny Don't does.
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Fork

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They would have a field day on our site...3".....thats just a third of the size of the handle on one of my "tools"
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Jeannine

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I have carried a folding Swiss Army knife in my handbag for years..is that not legal in ther UK?

XX Jeannine
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Unwashed

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I have carried a folding Swiss Army knife in my handbag for years..is that not legal in ther UK?

XX Jeannine
Funnily enough the blades are probably OK, but you could be nicked for the scissors and toothpick.
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Unwashed

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Nigel, did this answer your question?
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Nigel B

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............ Yes and no Unwashed, but it is certainly helping me understand the law as-is..... And thanks to all who are contributing to the thread......... :)


Now, here's the rub................ I was arrested on the plot for an alleged assault. The alleged assault happened when I (allegedly) set upon two other males during an argument about fires on the site..... ( I know, I can still hardly believe it myself... But I do have to be careful what I say here)....
I was arrested because the blood issuing from a cut eye and nose was proof of my involvement.... (Fair enough).............
......... Then....... Not many of the 'formal procedures' were followed.... For instance, I wasn't searched, or asked if I had any kind of weapon in my possession......
... I was then admitted to the local custody suite and held in one of their glass-fronted holding cells while I was to be processed...... It was while I was in that holding cell that I discovered the knife in my possession...  :o




[Aside]Holding it up and tapping on the glass with it produced one of the funnier scenes I have witnessed in a long while, as roughly ten uniformed bodies stood stiffly, froze almost, at the sight of the tiny knife..... There followed what would convince even the harshest critic, that the synchronised-hands-flapping around their utility belts as they tried to figure out which tool of pain would be the most effective against a two-inch knife through a half-inch of specially toughened glass, they had been intensely choregraphed as they all looked first this way, then that, then down, then up again.... I felt like I should break into my best David Attenburgh voice and describe the antics of these unformed Meercat Muppets.......[/aside]

Anyways, I handed the knife over through a tiny gap between door and jamb, was thanked, then informed I'd be charged with carrying it in a public place as well.....
I argued that the only place I was actually seen with it was the Custody Suite, and I had to get arrested to even be there, but hey-ho.... We'll see how it turns out.....
"Carry on therefore with your good work.  Do not rest on your spades, except for those brief periods which are every gardeners privilege."

Robert_Brenchley

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You need a solicitor.

cornykev

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Now they've put a knife advert at the bottom of the page Nigel, talk about twisting the knife in.   :-X
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Nigel B

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 ;D ;D ;D
"Carry on therefore with your good work.  Do not rest on your spades, except for those brief periods which are every gardeners privilege."

 

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