AS I’ve mentioned before, people sometimes approach me in pubs and ask me about things in the news.

As I’ve also mentioned before, I’m sometimes too busy to answer on account of being stalked by giant spiders, rats and other creatures nobody else seems able to see, so I have to give my answers in this column instead.

Anyway, what people have been asking me about lately is the new legislation which makes it illegal to possess corrosive substances in public and weapons such as so-called zombie knives and knuckle dusters even in the privacy of one’s home, and which means online dealers of knives and corrosive substances are banned from selling their wares without age verification.

Here are some of the most frequent questions and my answers:

Q: So the new law will mean that nobody aged under 18 will be able to obtain things like acid and knives, then?

A: Yes indeed - unless they have a friend who is 18 and willing to obtain the item on their behalf. Or they live in a building which includes, say, a kitchen where knives are kept, a bathroom where bleach is kept or a shed or garage where substances such as drain cleaner are kept. Or they’re not above a spot of shoplifting.

Q: You’re so cynical sometimes. Surely you can’t object to the new law which says nobody is allowed to possess corrosive substances in public without a legitimate reason?

A: Of course I don’t. This aspect of the new legislation is designed to tackle the rising criminal trend among certain thugs to inflict life-changing and potentially lethal injuries using substances which can be obtained fairly easily and carried in unobtrusive ways.

Provided that those criminals happen to be stopped, questioned, searched, and any container they are carrying carefully examined, potential crimes will be averted.

Q: But at least criminals won’t be able to have things like zombie knives at home.

A: Absolutely. Nobody will be allowed to have a knife with a bit of green paint on it at home. This will cause heartache to, for example, fans of films, books, TV series, video games and comics involving zombies, who own zombie knives as novelty collectables and would no more use them as weapons than jump in a fire.

Actual knife criminals will just have to make sure the knives they have at home are ordinary cutlery, and everything will still be tickety-boo for them.

Q: Hold on a minute. You’re always calling for the law to be beefed so as to stem the tide of mayhem, bereavement and shattered lives caused by crimes such as these, yet even though our courts are going to be obliged to deal very severely with people who commit some very nasty offences you’re still not satisfied. Are you just trying to be contrary?

A: Now you mention our courts, they won’t be obliged to deal severely with any of these offences. Judges - many of them from backgrounds which insulate them from inconvenient realities such as street crime- will be free to listen to and act on whichever excuses and lies are trotted out on behalf of any offender, and to set that offender free as per more-or-less usual.

Incidentally, unless I’ve misread the legislation, the maximum penalty for possessing a corrosive substance in public will be 12 months inside. Or rather, about six months before early release.

Q: Alright then. If you think you’re so clever, what’s your solution?

A: Well, tackling the social issues which foster such crimes in the first place might be an idea, and so might imposing mandatory deterrent sentences.

Unfortunately, those options would be rather harder work than meaninglessly altering a statute.