As I was reading through the BCC News site this morning I came across this headline ‘Surrey v Middlesex: Play abandoned after crossbow arrow lands on pitch‘. In short, a cricket match was abandoned after a crossbow bolt was shot into the ground from around 160 yrds away, the players left the pitch, armed police carried out a controlled evacuation and investigations continue.
Common sense dictates you that can’t shoot a crossbow or bow in an area where the public would be at risk but what does the British Law say on the matter. Luckily, for us the use of a crossbow is covered specifically in the aptly named ‘Crossbow Act 1987’. The Act is a riveting read and if you fancy trawling through it then it’s available for your viewing pleasure here.
However, i’ll summaries it here.
- You need to be aged 18 years or older to own a crossbow. If you are not and you purchase or hire a crossbow or parts of it you’re committing an offence.
- If a crossbow is hired or sold to a person under the age of 18 then the seller is committing an offence unless they believed the individual was above 18 and has reasonable ground for that belief.
- If a person is under 18 years of age and in the possession of a crossbow then they must be under the supervision of someone who is 21 or older.
- If a police officer suspects that a person under the age of 18 in possession of a crossbow then they can be searched, as can their vehicle and property. If a crossbow is found it can be seized.
- If crossbow has a draw weight of less than 1.4kilograms (a hefty 3lbs) then it’s exempt from the Act.
- The maximum sentence under this Act is six months imprisonment and/or a level 5 fine which was a maximum of £2000 when the Act was introduced but is now an unlimited amount.
As you can see the Crossbow Act 1987 covers the ownership and sale of crossbows, so if one carried or shot in a public place, as was the case here then section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 would be used which makes it an offence to possess any offensive weapon in a public place. Maximum sentence for under the Prevention of Crime Act would be four years if sentenced at a Crown Court or four months at a magistrates court.
Now I suspect that if anybody is ever arrested for this the sentence will be dependant on external factors such as age and intent.
No matter the outcome it’s very lucky that nobody was injured or worse.