Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

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simonineaston
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Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby simonineaston » 11 Aug 2015, 10:42am

Hi mes amis,
I'm off to Brittany - the last time I went, via BF, I was searched, casually, by a nice young man, who asked specifically about knives. I showed him the two I carry when I tour, both Opinel #8s, which have useful blades, about 3" in length. One is the original, carbon steel pointy jobbie, as sharp as a razor, which I use for cutting all sorts, as demand arises, but mainly saucisse and particularly, tomatoes! The other is stainless, rounded and blunt, in other words, a butter knife, which is exactly what I use it for, thus I am equipped for many a jolly picnic. Both these knives were made and bought, ironically, in France...
What experiences do folks have re: knives and cross-channel searches?
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

greyingbeard
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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby greyingbeard » 11 Aug 2015, 10:51am

None. But Ive been scanned for traces of explosives on my hands by an obnoxious abrasive jobsworth.

Not that long ago there was a big music festival near me. Police installed a metal detector at the railway station and confiscated hundreds of knives, a great success for public safety, hundreds saved from the rampaging family picnic.

Brucey
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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby Brucey » 11 Aug 2015, 11:36am

I don't know what the rules are in France but if you lose your knife in a search you can always buy another one, they are not expensive. However you also have to go back to the UK, and in the UK you may instantly be committing an offence by carrying a blade over a certain length (depending on how the cutting edge is defined) 'without good reason'.
http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/knives-offensive-weapons-and-the-law

also;

Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 prohibits having with you, in a public place of any article which has a blade or is sharply pointed, (including a folding pocket knife if the cutting edge of its blade exceeds 7.62cm/3 inches) (Archbold 24-125).

Section 139A of the 1988 Act extends the geographical scope of both of the above offences to school premises.

For the purposes of sections 139 and 139A of the Act:
a butterknife, with no cutting edge and no point is a bladed article; (Booker v DPP 169).P.368, DC);
a screwdriver is not a bladed article; R v Davis [1998] Crim L.R. 564 CA);
a "lock knife" doe not come into the category of "folding pocket knife" because it is not immediately foldable at all times; (R v Deegan [1998] 2 Cr. App. R. 121 CA).
from
http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/offensive_weapons_knives_bladed_and_pointed_articles/

Opinels are nice knives, very handy, and at one time I'd always carry one on a trip.
Image

But not any more.

Most Opinel knives are locking so the blade length is (if I understand things correctly) is perhaps irrelevant. Also they have the cutting edge ground back to the hilt, so even a non-locking version with a long blade is an offensive weapon. In addition legal precedent suggests that a non-cutting butter knife is also 'a bladed article' anyway (even if a screwdriver isn't.. :roll: .). Years ago I think they used to make the longer Opinel blades without a locking collar ( I think I have a #6 or a #8 like this at home somewhere), and regardless of how useful any of these are for cutting up bread, saucisson & tomatoes, I think it is a hard sell to justify carrying such, these days. [BTW I used to find that the carbon steel blade would taint the food unless used and cleaned at least daily.] For a few years I carried a small (heel lock) locking knife with a rather blunt blade about 2" long but now I will carry a small swiss army knife or nothing; nothing sharp, anyway. Any non-locking knife is obviously awkward to use without risk to your own digits but maybe that is the price to pay for some increased measure of public safety.

All of which doesn't really answer your main question I suppose! I wonder what other folk do?

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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simonineaston
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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby simonineaston » 11 Aug 2015, 11:46am

My own thoughts are that it will depend on the searcher. The 'nice young man' I referred to was clearly a normal fellow, doing the job as agency staff or a summer job - he did what he was supposed to and looked rather wistful when I told him about the picnics I planned to enjoy, and wished me a pleasant trip. He could clearly see that the bloodiest act I was going to commit was to slice up cold meat! However, the next searcher may well be a Job's Worth and so it'll be Bye Bye Opinel!
Years ago I used to carry a Swiss Army knife too, (well actually, it was a British vs. made for Boy Scouts), which I still have, somewhere and it was when I first went cycle-touring in France that I came across Opinel knives and then it dawned on me that, useful though the Swiss Army-type knife is, the small blades are fiddly to use for anything other than just cutting string! and the proper size blades on an Opinel is just the job for picnicking.
But back then, the only people who carried knives with malice aforethought were hoodlums in movies and we hadn't got to the awful state described by GB, where all sorts of foolish idiots carry all sorts of ghastly blades, Lord alone knows what for, as they haven't twigged what an offence to common-sense carrying such things amounts too... Modern Life, eh??!!
Last edited by simonineaston on 11 Aug 2015, 12:44pm, edited 1 time in total.
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bretonbikes
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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby bretonbikes » 11 Aug 2015, 12:33pm

Opinels are almost universally carried by the French - in a pocket, handbag etc. They are some of the sharpest knives you will ever use and easy to sharpen. The round-end 'butter' knife is sold as a child's knife - sort of 'my-first-opinel' and is as sharp as a razor - including the rounded end - in fact it's my knife of choice on-tour.

The snag is when you return to the UK because these knives all lock using a ring which twists around the base of the blade. This is an essential feature in France because hacking off a slice of baguette or saucisson and having the blade close on your fingers is not pretty. For the same reason they make great kitchen knives and the larger ones excellent chef's knives.

Of course this makes them highly illegal in the UK (as with various locking 'Leathermen' type tools) - the good news being that the rotating collar can be popped off with a bit of effort with a screwdriver (when the knife is closed) and the collar carried separately.

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simonineaston
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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby simonineaston » 11 Aug 2015, 12:45pm

bretonbikes wrote:...the rotating collar can be popped off with a bit of effort with a screwdriver (when the knife is closed) and the collar carried separately.
Genius, BB - I'll get 'popping' straight away! And at least the person it sounds like I may have the argument with will be an English-speaker.
Last edited by simonineaston on 11 Aug 2015, 12:53pm, edited 1 time in total.
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pwa
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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby pwa » 11 Aug 2015, 12:47pm

We're off to Provence at the end of the week for a 2 week tour and as part of our camping kit we have a 3" penknife for cutting cheese, tomatoes, etc. Knives are fine in the right context. In a nightclub, probably not. In camping kit, no problem. I have always carried knives where I have a good use for them, and I will continue to do so. Just avoid silly mistakes like trying to take one in hand baggage on an aircraft.

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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby nirakaro » 11 Aug 2015, 1:04pm

I've never had a problem on a ferry, but if you're going through the tunnel, forget it! Though the French security seem a lot more relaxed/sensible about it than in the UK.
If I'm starting a tour in France, I now tend to leave the Opinel at home, and buy a new one first thing on arrival - I'm getting a small collection in different sizes. Getting on the Hull-Rotterdam ferry, when I owned up to having a penknife, I was just advised to 'keep it out of sight'. Very sensible interpretation of the rules.

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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby Tangled Metal » 11 Aug 2015, 1:11pm

Perhaps the better place to read about this are the various knife forums around or the forums based on activities where bladed tools are used such as BCUK - relevant link http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=12

In the UK the rules are clear enough but there is a provision in law for reasonable use. Basically if you are walking down a street carrying a kitchen knife then that is not legal. If you are backpacking through the Scots Pines in Rothimurchus and planning to camp out and use a woodburner to cook on then a knife, even a locking one, is legal. You have to have a reasonable use to make it legal. That is down to the view of the policeman stopping you. He/she can confiscate and even arrest but you can then argue your case in court. However in the meantime your knife has been destroyed so be very careful where you carry any heirloom knife.

As an aside I once heard of someone at a county show giving a display at their stand on various woodcarving type activities using an axe and knives. Two coppers stood there watching with genuine interest. Then afterwards as he was packing up one of them came up and started arresting him for carrying an offensive weapon. The other more senior officer came over and sent the junior copper packing. It was a nervous time since he had some very nice kit (some of it made by himself to his own design). That paints a picture to me about how knife law is such a grey area and open to the wrong interpretation by the police. Put simply a copper takes a dislike to you and decides to search you, if he finds a knife on you he has the right to arrest you and/or confiscate the knife no matter what fair usage you have. A later court proceedings may acquit you but you will never get your knife back.

Personally I carry either an opinel (carbon steel or stainless steel) in either a no 7 or 8. In certain activities I also carry a mora fixed blade knife. Those are always stashed deep in my bag and TBH only taken when I am backpacking in the wilds and I have a reasonable use for them (I own a small woodburning backpacking stove so being able to batten sticks to burn and make feather sticks to get it going is a fair use of the fixed blade knife).

To the OP I say take those knives as they have a legal use but put them deep in whatever bag you are carrying. This is not to make them harder to find but to make them harder to access so you can argue that they are only for certain legal uses and not for aggressive use that is clearly criminal in nature. Also IIRC in France there is more of a tradition of carrying a folding knife such as an opinel even in day to day activities so you should be ok over there.

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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby tatanab » 11 Aug 2015, 1:24pm

A large Swiss Army knife (non locking) is in the side pocket of my saddlebag.

Only once at a port have I been asked if I have a knife, that was at Dover on the way out. They did not even want to see it. Crossing from Portsmouth this year I was selected for an x ray of my saddlebag. They were not interested at all in the Swiss Army knife, but in a bin alongside the x ray machine they had quite a collection of fixed blade knifes some of which were pretty big.

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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby Martyn B » 11 Aug 2015, 1:33pm

I had my Opinel confiscated by a particularly unpleasant individual at Plymouth a few years ago, on my way out to Roscoff - a complete jobsworth ,bully and moron, all rolled into one. The guy did his best to provoke a reaction from me, almost goading me into doing something which would have led to missing the ferry. Fortunately, I succeeded in annoying him even more, by not reacting to his puerile mentality, keeping a very cool head and refraining from using a sarcastic or condescending tone towards him, although beneath the surface I was absolutely fuming. All this because I was stupid enough to acknowledge, when asked, that I did have an Opinel knife in the boot of the car! I should point out that this person was not an employee of the Border Agency, or the Port Authorities, but employed by one of our more prominent security firms, which probably says it all.....!!

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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby simonineaston » 11 Aug 2015, 1:41pm

From what folks say, it does indeed seem completely dependant on who asks for / finds the knife! I will adopt the following tactic: Take my 'butter knife' - Opinel #7 (blade = two and three quarter inches), lock collar removed, buried at bottom of rack pack. Best I can do! Lord knows how I am going to cut up my tomatoes! :wink:
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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby RobinS » 11 Aug 2015, 2:02pm

I have been stopped and checked in a car travelling both by ferry and tunnel, and on bikes on Condor ferries. They question whether we have any knives ( or sometimes "big knives or firearms). I answer yes (to the knives bit), and offer to show them my 9" cook's knife, along with the 4" Opinel, and have never had any problems.

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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby bretonbikes » 11 Aug 2015, 2:15pm

Just to clarify - from the gov.uk site

You need good reason unless...

"carry a knife in public without good reason - unless it’s a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less, eg a Swiss Army knife"

So an under 3" Opinal with the collar removed is totally legal at all times and circumstances

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Re: Les couteaux... to carry, or not?

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Aug 2015, 2:30pm

bretonbikes wrote: ... So an under 3" Opinal with the collar removed is totally legal at all times and circumstances


Just to be thread to needle, that needs qualifying. The legislation directed at knives was an extension to the existing legislation aimed at preventing various offences. The point (sorry :oops: ) about knives is that they can be particularly dangerous and so were made the subject of specific additional controls. So, carrying something with intent to commit damage; for the purposes of crime (as defined; or which is an offensive weapon (and here "intended to be used" would be central to any charge) might be considered an offence.

If you carry just about anything intending to be naughty with it, you may be in trouble, no matter how innocent its normal purpose.