Offensive Weapons Act: Impact on Age Verification


Knife crime has risen to its highest-ever level in England and Wales with approximate 43,000 knife-related offenses. And the number of youngsters involved in these offenses is the highest. In order to lower the rate of these crimes, it becomes imperative for businesses to restrict the sales of knives and related products. 

Offensive Weapons Act

Offensive Weapons Act 2019, passed in May of 2019 is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The act involves the crimes related to acid attacks, knife crimes, the sale of, delivery and possession of knives and other offensive weapons and included supplementary restrictions on firearms. According to the act, the sale of bladed products is not permissible without proper age verification

Age verification must happen twice;

  • Once at the period of sale
  • Second at the time when goods are delivered 

All online retailers must have robust age verification systems in place and should work on how to coordinate the age verification procedures both online and remotely. 

What Can Retailers Do? 

It is the responsibility of retailers to verify the age of their customers and it becomes their duty to have robust age verification systems in place. Proper age verification systems are capable of verifying the ages of the customers in real-time accurately. Age verification systems should be constantly monitored and updated. This will benefit in the identification of the customer’s age and help in keeping pace with the improvements in the system.

Role of Online Age Verification 

Online age verification software is a combination of advanced technologies that include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer vision to verify the age of the customers. The combination of these technologies result in accurately identifying the age of the clients. 

Online age verification works by first capturing the ID document and then extracting the data through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. The system verifies the data and documents in real-time. Through the employment of age verification technologies, it is almost impossible for minors to use their parents’ ID or utilize fake IDs to access age-restricted websites including offensive weapons. 

Challenges Faced By Retailers

To perform robust age verification for the clients both at the time of purchase and at the time of delivery, retailers can face several challenges. Most retailers outsource their delivery and logistics once the product leaves the premises. This implies that the second age verification at the time of delivery is also outsourced. The responsibility falls on the delivery service and if the logistics firm fails to properly verify the age of the individual at the time of delivery, the retailers can face legal risks. 

It is also imperative that in today’s challenging and customer-oriented business, businesses have to put the customer experience first and streamline the entire purchase and delivery process for their customers. Through online age verification, customers can have a positive experience. There are a number of verification service providers in the market to help the retailers verify the ages of their customers. 

Knife crime and other related offenses are a serious social problem particularly now with the increase of knife-related crimes among the youth. A multidimensional strategy should be employed and figured out in order to crack down on underage sales of dangerous weapons. 

With the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, dual responsibility falls on the retailers and catering suppliers. It becomes imperative for them to keep pace with the ever-changing regulatory evolution. This will help the retailers stay compliant with the changing regulations and it will also help in ensuring that dangerous goods do not fall into wrong hands. 

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