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Royal Mail backtracks on plans to ban blades

Small businesses would be penalised under a blanket ban on bladed items but campaigners have convinced Royal Mail to scrap its plan

Royal Mail has shelved its plans to impose a blanket ban on the carriage of knives, which would have unfairly penalised hundreds of small businesses across the country. 

Rural lobbying organisations including BASC have written to Royal Mail’s chief executive, pointing out the ban would severely impact retailers across the UK that rely on online orders for knives (News, 14 February). The rethink of the policy was urged by campaigners who highlighted that Royal Mail will continue to deliver other age-restricted items, such as alcohol, and had failed to offer any clear explanation for imposing a ban. BASC also sent a letter to Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, asking her to intervene. 

The rethink comes after the initial policy announced that the ban would include “sporting equipment with a blade”, which would have extended to articles such as ice skates. Other items that appear to have been dropped but were present on the initial list of banned items included cutlery knives, scissors and razor blades. 

Despite initially stating this was a business decision and “not open to discussion”, Royal Mail has now said that, following feedback, from 7 May there will be a list of prohibited bladed items it will not carry, and a list of restricted bladed items that can still be sent using its age-verification service. 

BASC’s head of policy and campaigns Dr Conor O’Gorman said: “While this is welcome news, the devil is always in the detail. The initial feedback we have received from retailers and trade members on the restrictions due to take effect are that the definitions are too vague and leave them open to their deliveries being randomly stopped by postal staff with little training, which could result in unfair penalties. BASC will continue to press Royal Mail for further clarity.” 

Leo Donkersley, international sales manager at Casström Knives, said: “I’m encouraged to see Royal Mail reconsidering its blanket knife ban. Recognising outdoor knives as essential tools, and not weapons, is a crucial distinction. This rethink reflects a thoughtful approach to balancing safety with the needs of legitimate users.” 

Royal Mail will now continue to carry “any knife or knife blade, including cutlery knives, bread knives, knives that can be used for hobbies and trades, butcher knives (including meat cleavers), felling axes and razor blades”