Following discussions with several relevant parties, Leeds Steampunk Market is working closely with Whitby Goth Weekend and have both decided to implement a no confusion, exclusion on all weaponry irrespective of age, size, type, loose or holstered for the safety of all visitors in all LSM venues from this point onwards.
On occasion over the last few events there has been collective cause to speak to a small number of visitors regarding weapons, props and attire at our family events. We do have a procedure where such incidents are recorded, and have not felt the need for a formal policy on the matter until March 2016. With the venue we have used for our December event for the last three years, there has already been a weapons ban in place so felt it made more sense to implement this across all our events and venues.
If you do arrive at one of our events with any of these, you will be asked to leave them in your car or even refused admission.
We are aware of WGW events in 2015/16 where certain individuals chose to ‘run the gauntlet’ through their daytime venues with unsecured weapons. It was explained to them that their behaviour was considered high risk, but that they would be welcome without their weapons.
LSM team members (who are volunteers) in our Markets are there to liaise between our 50+ trading partners and visitors and to oversee an enjoyable and safe shopping experience for all. None of them are employed as security officers nor to act as weapons marshals. If in the course of their roles, they are made aware of a Health and Safety concern they will of course attend to it as a priority, and consequently there may have been an impression of inconsistency.
As event organisers, we have a duty of care and must put the safety of all our visitors as priority.
Leeds & Bradford Steampunk Market does not have the financial resources to insure nor ask the museum staff to provide any sort of storage facility for weapons at any of our busy venues. Furthermore we do not see the necessity for weapons and hazardous props to be present at our family events. The impact of something dreadful happening as a result of a weapon, prop, or costume causing injury or damage would be catastrophic in many ways and we ask visitors to be mindful that the different venues we use vary in distance from their nearest major A&E department and police station.
As a small number of individuals have been determined to cause a public furore regarding the issue of weapons at Leeds Steampunk Market we have been left with no choice but to raise the issue of weapons with our insurers, who left us in no doubt that to turn a blind eye to the situation would render us negligent. The terms of our event insurance do not permit us to offer a cloakroom facility for weapons and props.
We wish to emphasise that this decision was not taken lightly and it is not borne from a desire to stop our visitors having fun, nor to exclude goths (or anyone else) from Leeds Steampunk Market and in the same way steampunks are not being ostracised from Whitby Goth Weekend.
Please see our detailed policy which is to ensure that all visitors do not wear or carry any sort of accessory or prop that is designed to replicate or represent steampunk or realistic weapons. They can be dangerous and can cause alarm to others. This policy also provides information and guidelines on props and costumes at Leeds Steampunk Market.
The purpose of our Weapons, Props and Costume Policy is not to spoil anyone’s fun but to provide a safe environment for all who reside, work and visit our events.
We would also like to sincerely thank Jo Hampshire of Whitby Goth Weekend for her support and collaboration in creating what we hope will be a universally recognised policy.
This document is not subject to Copyright and event organisers of any type are welcome to use any part or all of it in any guidelines of their own.
We are also certainly not banning traders who retail larp/cosplay props or replica steampunk weaponry as part of their stock, as these can obviously be worn at other private events (please check with anyone else’s events in regards to their own policies) or used as props in photo shoots for example.
If you are selling any sort of weapons such as bladed items, obviously fake firearms or similar (nerf guns etc), these must comply with current legislation and must meet UK legal requirements.
We do not advocate the open display of any sort of blades – they must be contained within some sort of glass topped case for example – so that customers may view them safely. Please be aware of others around you when taking said items out - do NOT be waving it about or showing it off as you will (understandably) be making the other people around you very nervous.
Steampunk weaponry is often very obvious in looking “fake” and “futuristic” and we know we can rely on our traders that sell these in exercising their own common sense when it comes to their own display and handling (both the stock and customers!)
You should be aware of and stick to specific regulations that may have an effect upon your business e.g. the VCRA (Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006) and regulations on the sale of firearms, knives, blades and other weaponry.
Deactivated firearms and modern replicas will not be allowed at LSM. This means anything that is not a muzzle loader. This is due to an increase in the use of relatively modern firearms and deacts in crime.
Traders will be required to wrap/package purchases appropriately and customers will be reminded that their purchase should not be publicly displayed at any of our own markets.
Offensive Weapons - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/knives-and-offensive-weapons-information
Knives and Blades - https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/knives-offensive-weapons-and-law
Imitation Firearms - http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/firearms/#a03
Weapons, Props and Attire Policy
So what exactly do we mean by weapon?
We all must move away from the rather catch all, but meaningless term: weapon. It's defined as “... a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage.” In other words, absolutely anything that is used with the intent to harm; a chair a pencil, a fist, a thrown coin. It is impossible to ban weapons.
By far the best approach would be the way the Home Office addresses the issue, by separating Blades and Firearms into different categories with laws/guidelines for each.
I would separate the risk into 3 areas of concern.
1 Blades and Edged Weapons
2 Imitation Firearms
3 Large Items
1: Blades and Edged Weapons
A toy gun may be used as nothing more than a plastic or wooden club but a blade (even blunted) is always going to be a blade. The danger is always there and an Edged Weapon Policy stands. See the legalities here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/knives-offensive-weapons-and-law
2: Imitation Firearms
The law covering the carrying of Imitation Firearms is fairly straightforward, well documented and easy to find on line. The main aim is to avoid them being used in a perceived threatening manner, in a public space. Some venues don't want anything that is a weapon. Although when pushed, they can't actually tell you what a weapon is.
Modern replicas or de-activated weapons have little to do with an essentially Victorian based gathering, although 'muzzle-loader' pushes it much further back than even the law allows.
We are just going with the statement of – no imitation firearms. End of.
3: Large Items
The first two categories are self-explanatory, but category 3 is equally and often more important. This would cover large jet-packs, wings, pushchairs, even dogs. The more space provided between stalls, and the lighter crowds, the lower the risks. It needs to be stressed that visitor safety is paramount. This category needs attention, because it covers essentially non-threatening items. We are not banning these but are asking visitors to consider the people around them and be mindful of their “turning space” at all times. If the footfall and accessibility becomes more of a concern, you may be asked to return items such as wings, jetpacks and pushchairs to your car.
We respectfully request that VISITORS take note of the restrictions now in place at any event hosted by Leeds Steampunk Market at any of our venues.
Actual firearms including Airsoft, modern, hunting, or historic, either functioning or decommissioned.
Replica firearms made from metal, solid resin, plastic, wood, or rubber.
Slingshots and bows of any kind.
Projectile weapons of any kind including Nerf and water guns.
Live Steel - Metal blades whether sharp or blunt e.g. swords, axes and knives.
Heavy bats, paddles, or clubs including baseball bats.
Bokken – a hard wooden or toughened plastic training sword.
Explosives and incendiary devices.
All weapon props - these may be up to 5ft (150cm) in length. (Generally lightweight and free of sharp edges, spikes, points, or excessive weight, usually made of foam, plastic, polystyrene, foamboard or cardboard.)
The only exception to this will be if our entertainment involves a weaponry display and demonstration. There is no excuse to bring any sharp weapons out in public other than for a demo display - in that case they will have written evidence of where it is going and why. Anyone bringing a sharp sword to a social event who isn't professionally trained, insured and demo-ing it as part of an organised controlled display is leaving themselves open to trouble and possible prosecution.
Attire should be suitable for a family event. Skimpy costumes are acceptable, nudity is not. (Rule of thumb - no more revealing than swimwear you’d wear to your local pool).
Due to our venues often being in museums with working machinery as well as being extremely busy, fabric trains are not advised.
Extreme fetish wear is not suitable.
The maximum width of any costume is one metre (Rule of thumb - if you can’t get through a standard doorway it’s too big).
Costumes should not create flames, explosions, or bursts of electricity.
Rollerblades, roller skates and other footwear with wheels are not permitted.
The following are strictly prohibited:
Costumes that could be mistaken for current military or service personnel.
Uniforms displaying emblems and/or flags associated with hate crime and crimes against humanity.
Exceptions and Liability
This policy does not apply to mobility aids used for accessibility such as canes, crutches, and walkers. Items that are usually carried in public such as umbrellas are allowed.
Do NOT raise the issue of “a blade hidden inside a walking cane” as these are actually illegal and should not be carried in public anywhere.
Our insurer does not permit us to watch or provide storage for any weapon or prop for any amount of time. The above list is not exhaustive but a quick measure up against ‘Wheaton’s Law’ should clarify the acceptability of most other accessories. However, if you are in any doubt about an aspect of your attire please head to the venue’s reception for clarification from the LSM organisers or the venue Manager.
Leeds & Bradford Steampunk Market will not be held legally responsible for any misconduct, damage or injury resulting from the actions of any visitor to the event. We reserve the right to refuse admission and to amend this policy without notice to ensure a safe environment for visitors.
We repeat, as event organisers, we have a duty of care and must put the safety of all our visitors as priority.
The decision of the Venue and/or Organiser is final.
The museum staff and our team of volunteers have the right to do their job free from verbal abuse. The majority of our customers respect that.
Thank you for being one of them.