People often ask is it legal to buy a truncheon in the UK. Or for that matter, is it legal to sell one? Or own one?
‘Truncheon’ is a term often used interchangeably with ‘baton’, and for this, it’s important to know exactly what we are talking about when we say truncheon.
By truncheon, we are referring to a wooden truncheon such as the police used to use.
Here is an old police truncheon.
The one above is an old Victorian one, but for these purposes, it doesn’t really matter if it’s 100 years old as with the one above or one of the replica police truncheons we sell that are a later 1960s design like this.
Now the word ‘baton’ is where the confusion arises.
The Oxford Dictionary tells us that in British English it means many things but can also be a truncheon.
However, the law itself is somewhat more specific on what a baton is and refers to a truncheon only where it is extendable (in other words, an extendable baton such as the police use nowadays).
Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is an offence to sell, or offer for sale or hire, any telescopic truncheons activated by a spring-loaded button.
It would appear that ASP batons and similar devices that operate with the flick of the wrist fall under the same banner.
Section 141(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 refers to friction-lock truncheons such as the one above. It also refers to side-handled truncheons such as these.
I’d suggest that was more correctly called a side-handled baton or a nightstick if over the pond.
So we’d suggest staying away from side handled batons and telescopic batons.
However, the law does not specifically refer to standard wooden truncheons (of the old police design) as being banned, illegal to own, buy, sell or being an offensive weapon per se. If they were, then a table leg, snooker cue, fishing priest (fish bat), baseball bat or any similar object would need to be banned too. And they’re not.
A truncheon only becomes illegal if you are doing something illegal with it. Or if the circumstances suggest you are or might be intending on using it as an offensive weapon.
You could certainly use one as an offensive weapon, depending on where you are and what you are doing with it, and that is the point where it becomes a legal issue. Our other article Is It Legal to Carry a Wooden Truncheon in the UK? discusses the law as we understand it around truncheons and offensive weapons in much more detail.
So back to the original question: is it legal to buy a truncheon in the UK? And the related question: is it legal to own one?
The short answer would be, yes. As long as you have no criminal intent.
So is it legal to sell them?
By extension of the above, if they are not being marketed for criminal purposes, sold specifically for self-defence or as a weapon, then yes.
This is evidenced by the fact that various auction sites, military surplus stores, theatrical supply stores, militaria fairs, junk shops, car boot sales and a host of websites all sell them without issue.
Buying and selling truncheons on eBay or Amazon
By and large, you can’t buy and sell truncheons as truncheons on eBay or Amazon. You can buy and sell them if they are described as something that fits within their clearly defined rules, perhaps as a novelty item, toy or sporting bat, but in general terms, the sale of truncheons is restricted on eBay and Amazon.
Amazon says you can’t sell “batons and telescopic truncheons” on their platform. They lump truncheons in with that as a baton.
eBay’s policies mention batons and nightsticks as not being allowed on their platform. They lump truncheons in with that.
If you want to buy or sell a truncheon online, you need to use a private website.
Is it legal to buy a truncheon in the UK? Yes, if you know where to look.
If you want a traditional British police-style wooden truncheon, we sell an exact replica of a 1960s Leeds City Police one with a leather lanyard at a very reasonable price. Click the button below to find out more.
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