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New law to ban zombie-style knives and machetes

Dangerous zombie-style knives and machetes will be banned under new legislation to take these weapons off our streets and keep young people safe.

Under the measures, first announced by the Prime Minister last year and laid before Parliament today, it will be illegal to possess, sell, manufacture or transport these zombie-style knives and machetes.

The government is urging anyone with one of these dangerous weapons to voluntarily hand it into a knife surrender bin, before the official surrender and compensation scheme is launched in the summer. This will get these knives off our streets as soon as possible, while giving people in possession an opportunity to hand them in without legal implications. The full ban will come into in force in September, after which anyone in possession of one of these knives may face time behind bars.

During this time, the government will work with police, communities and partners to ensure there is public awareness of the surrender scheme, which have been implemented in the past to accompany knife bans.

This is just one part of a package of measures being introduced by the government to strengthen existing knife crime laws, which are already among the toughest in the world. It is illegal to carry any knife in public without good purpose, carrying a sentence of 4 years in prison, and, in 2016, the government banned zombie knives, whilst cyclone knives were banned in 2019.

Since 2019, police have taken 120,000 knives off our streets through stop and search and other targeted police action. Knife crime has gone down 5% since 2019 and hospital admissions for under 25s involved in stabbings has fallen by 25%. Violent crime is also down 51% since 2010.

Building on this record, the Criminal Justice Bill will go further by increasing the maximum sentence for the possession of banned weapons from 6 months to 2 years, while anyone caught selling knives to under-18s, including online, will also face 2 years behind bars.

Police will also be given new powers to seize and destroy knives found on private premises if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the blade will be used in a serious crime. Previously, police could not seize knives found during a search on a property, even if they had suspicions of criminal use.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said:

Knife crime continues to take precious lives away, and I am determined to put an end to this senseless violence.

We must stop these dangerous knives ending up on our streets and in the hands of criminals. We cannot let them be sold to children, and we must give young people a way out of violence.

That is why I have expedited the ban on zombie-style machetes and we are increasing the maximum sentence for selling knives to under 18s. We will continue to invest in youth services that have prevented thousands of violent injuries.

Zombie-style knives are just as dangerous as traditional zombie knives, however, they do not have the same distinct images or threatening wording that incites violence.

The police have identified that zombie-style knives are increasingly used in criminality, emerging on the back of the 2016 ban when some retailers exploited this loophole to keep selling these dangerous weapons but evade the law. The measures being introduced today will put an end to this technicality.

In line with previous knife bans, a surrender and compensation scheme will be introduced from the 26 August, and further guidance on how this will operate will be published in June.

Steel Warriors Head of Operations Christian d’Ippolito said:

Steel Warriors welcome the steps being taken by the government to strengthen its tough knife crime laws to keep dangerous knives off our streets. Weapons like these should not be available to young people, they have no place in modern society and should not be glorified.

At Steel Warriors we believe that lives should be built by steel, not destroyed by it. We melt down confiscated knives and recycle them into outdoor gyms, we then provide free community classes to transform the lives of young people affected by crime, violence and social exclusion, giving them the confidence they need to create positive futures.

During a visit to Kent Police yesterday, the Home Secretary saw first-hand how Home Office-funded youth violence prevention projects are helping steer young people away from violent crime. Recent independent evaluation has shown that the government’s Violence Reduction Units, in combination with hotspot policing patrols, have prevented an estimated 3,220 hospital admissions for violent injury since 2019 in areas where the programme operates.

The Home Secretary also met with Yemi Hughes, the mother of a knife crime victim, Idris Elba and members of his ‘Don’t Stop Your Future’ campaign yesterday afternoon to discuss action being taken on serious violence and what more can be done to tackle the issue.

The legislation laid in Parliament will amend the Criminal Justice Act 1988.