Which? investigation uncovers illegal weapons on UK marketplaces

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Which? have released their findings from an investigation, revealing that third-party sellers are selling illegal weapons to UK consumers on marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Wish & AliExpress.

According to Which? the weapons identified included friction lock batons, swords, knuckle dusters, zombie knives, push daggers among others. They are all banned by law, meaning they are illegal to own and sell and could result in a prison sentence even if they are stored away in private.

It is clear that in some cases, sellers have been trying to hide the illegal weapons behind misspelled names and inconspicuous images. Consumers could even get a combo deal of dangerous weapons if they wanted.

The marketplaces in question responded to Which? when contacted about the findings. Amazon have said they removed the listings and would take ‘appropriate enforcement’ against the sellers. eBay say they have also removed all listings and will investigate further why certain knives were not blocked for UK sellers adding that the vast majority of knives are prohibited on the marketplace. Wish confirmed that they took down the listings and are ‘exploring remedial action against any offending merchants’. Finally AliExpress say they have also removed the listings and are reviewing the accounts of any offending merchants, despite sending out promotional material for illegal knives following the comment.

It is claimed by UK police forces that online marketplaces are commonly used as a source for banned weapons, showing that there is a bigger issue with restricted goods getting onto platforms via third-party sellers. Understandably, regulating masses of third-party sellers, especially after the ecommerce boom will face its challenges. AI can only do so much to pick up bad actors if sellers are finding ways to trick the system. Which? believes that the findings show more responsibility and better checks are needed to ensuring dangerous goods are not available to consumers.

‘It is disturbing that our latest investigation has uncovered illegal weapons being sold on online marketplaces at extraordinarily cheap prices and that these tech firms are also pushing additional dangerous items to people. This raises big question marks over the checks and monitoring being done by these platforms. 

‘It’s clear that online marketplaces need to take more responsibility and prevent illegal weapons appearing on their sites.’

To avoid getting in trouble, sellers should ensure they know what goods are prohibited. It is important to check the terms and conditions of the marketplace as well as the laws to spot any goods that are illegal to sell.


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