UK’s Boy Scout Association Bans Knives

vintage_boy_scou1Bowing to intense political pressure, UK’s Boy Scout Association issued a “guidance” advising its members to no longer bring knives to camping events.

Troop leaders feel their leadership went too far with the outright ban. Prior to this ruling scouts were allowed to carry penknives with blades of less than 3 inches.

“It is health and safety gone mad.”

Shelia Burgin- Troop Leader

Knives have been a fundamental part of scouting for over 100 years. We all know their famous motto- “Be Prepared,” and knives were intricately involved in their preparation.

The UK’s Daily Mail reported the decision and stated it was a direct result of Britain’s anti-blade culture.

Thanks to Doug Ritter of Knife Rights for making us aware of this historic decision by the UK’s Boy Scout Association.

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Published in: on September 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm  Comments (11)  
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  1. This article is incorrect. Scouts are NOT banned from carrying penknives when appropriate.

    Please, check more sources than the Daily Mail.

  2. Interesting. It seems we have a different interpretation.

    Plus, there are multiple sources that echo the same sentiment as the Daily Mail-

    Moreover, in checking back with Doug Ritter over at Knife Rights- here’s his take on the “confusion.”

    “Some in the U.K. have objected to the characterization of the Scout policy as a ‘ban’ and claim that the newspaper article is misleading. We don’t think the Daily Mail article is that far off the mark. When an organization with a strong tradition of knife use and carry such as the Scouts comes out and clearly states that it considers knives as weapons first and prohibits their use except in specific situations determined ahead of time, we think ‘ban’ is a fair characterization. Scouts are not to carry knives at any time EXCEPT when a specific need is identified, and even then, they are to be allowed to have them only for as long as it takes them to perform that specified chore. Clearly, the Scout leadership has abdicated to the anti-knife hysteria in the U.K. Clearly they are discouraging carry of knives as a useful tool in daily life. In our opinion, by considering them weapons instead of tools, they are setting a poor and dangerous example for their youth, on many levels. Knife Rights was founded in order to keep knives as useful tools in our everyday life. The policy change evidenced by the Scouts in Britain is anathema to anyone who considers knives to be essential tools and one of our essential rights here in America.”

  3. The very use of the term “knife culture” in the articles implies that knives are inherently dangerous. It is my experience that this sort of rot issues forth from people who have never spent a day afield in their lives. They simply can’t imagine that knives, (or guns for that matter) can be used for anything besides crime.

    It is simply another indication of how out of touch with reality over-civilized humanity has become.

    A knife is merely a sharp blade. Whether it is a surgeon’s scalpel, or a mugger’s knife, it is always the intention of the human holding it that determines its function. As far as I am concerned, a good scout should always have a knife handy!

    • Well said, Jeff. Thanks.

    • Jeff, the term “knife culture” is referring to the misuse of knives, and number of young people who are carrying them not “just in case they need it” but as a means of protection or intimidation.

      A good Scout doesn’t need a knife at all times.

  4. Scott, that’s very simple to answer. The reporters haven’t paid any attention to more than the Daily Mail article and just continue to spout its claptrap without checking. And “Knife Rights” have a great big axe of their own to grind (sorry, the pun was unintentional).

    The truth, which is rather different to that claimed by your various “sources”, is that the UK Scout Association only wants penknives out as part of its activities when there is a need for them – such as on a backwoods camp, or during activities such as pioneering.

    It is simple common sense to not have knives when there is no need for them. Not because of any so-called “knife culture”, but simply safety. We teach our young people how to use knives, axes, and saws safely and appropriately. We certainly do not ban them and encourage the proper amount of respect for them. We – or at least I – would also most strongly object to the banning of penknives.

    Common sense dictates that no-one carries a knife when they don’t have a need for it. Why is that so hard for some people to get their head around?

    • Here is something to ponder. Change the word knife to pen. How many times in a day might you need a pen when you weren’t planning for it?

      As for myself, there are many times a week when I need a knife when I wasn’t planning on it. Often to assist someone who either doesn’t, or simply forgot to carry a knife.

      Can you imagine: “I’m sorry, I can’t help you, I wasn’t planning on opening a box today…”

      Common sense in my part of the world is to keep a pocket knife handy. It’s right up there with a first aid kit. You never really know when you might need it, but if you don’t have it, you are out of luck.

      I was a scout as a youngster, and toting a pocket knife was the norm. You are correct in teaching safety and responsibility. However, without some sort of clairvoyance, you don’t know what the day has in store! Hence the motto: “Be Prepared.”

  5. Chris-
    Thanks for working to clarify. Unfortunately your org has a PR nightmare going on right now if these reporters are wrong.

    As one without an “axe to grind,” your org has restricted knives over what was allowed in days gone by. While it may not be an outright ban, the guidance sends a strong message that knives are not to be carried except when the org deems them “needed.” I don’t understand this. How is one to know when a knife is “needed” if they are to be prepared?

    Furthermore, you have to admit, the general timing of this is very poor- giving your org the benefit of the doubt- considering the anti-knife culture in your country. Why is that? Have there been an increase in scout injuries from knives to cause this?

    • Scott, we have restricted knives what what was allowed in days gone by because THE LAW HAS CHANGED. Sheath knives were removed as part of the uniform in 1968.

      There has been no change in when Scouts are allowed to carry knives apart from this. When I was a Scouts a decade ago, we never carried knives when they weren’t necessary and the same is true today. Nothing has changed.

      This is simply a story made up by the tabloid press and a self-interest group to get a couple of headlines.

      • Chris-
        What you said is incorrect as evidenced by the link you added to show knives weren’t banned when you first posted here-

        You are now saying- “There has been no change in when Scouts are allowed to carry part from this (referring to a 1968 change).”

        How do you account for this statement in your source-

        “The article in Scouting magazine says is that- knives of any sort should not be carried by anybody to a Scout meeting or camp, unless there is likely to be a specific need for one.”

        You gonna tell us that it’s always been that way? Guess we better go back to Robert Baden-Powell’s writings.

        Your org’s rules- which go beyond the law-, as evidenced above, will not allow a knife of any sort to be carried unless your org establishes there is a need. Isn’t that a change since 1968?

  6. Suggest you check your facts before just accepting “stories” from others…

    Here is an excerpt from a response to the “story” that appeared in the aforementioned British “newspaper” from Wayne Bulpit, who is the UK Chief Commissioner of Scouting:

    The truth about Scouts and knives (07/09/2009)

    Never before has the saying “never let the truth get in the way of a good story” been true than the current media coverage about Scouts banning knives. We haven’t and I thought you might appreciate a quick heads up before we circulate a more detailed response. A Mail on Sunday journalist approached us on Friday having read the latest guidance we issued in Scouting Magazine/online in December 08 and April 09 on advising Scouts on the situations in which they can use a knife as part of normal Scout Activities. He was looking to make the story into “Scouts Ban knives shocker”. The media team took them through the facts and sent them links to our various documents and magazine articles giving him the following info, – The Rules changed about wearing knives with uniform in 1968 – We have issued regular guidance to the Movement on this matter ever since 1968 e.g. early 1980’s , 1996, 2008 and 2009 (the latest being the magazine article in April/May) – We need to support leaders with information to help them support young people Despite making these facts available the Mail on Sunday published the piece, They used a few selective statements and quotes some out of context.. A number of newspapers this morning (Times, Telegraph, Express, Mirror, Sun) have taken the text from the Mail on Sunday (without talking to us) and have run with the story. We are busy taking all the opportunities today to put the record straight via broadcast opportunities. Hope this explanation helps reassure you. More detailed update now available at: More about my great Scouting xperiences over the last 4 days a little later, Wayne

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