Actor Idris Elba leads knife crime campaign with symbolic display

By Farouq Suleiman

LONDON (Reuters) – Actor Idris Elba on Monday used his star power to launch a new campaign to combat knife crime in Britain, which has surged in recent years with many of the victims being teenage boys.

Elba, known for roles in the television series “The Wire” and “Luther”, is demanding an immediate ban on machetes and so-called “zombie knives” – bladed weapons originally inspired by zombie films.

To kick-off his “Don’t Stop Your Future” campaign, piles of neatly folded clothes were laid in rows across London’s Parliament Square to represent those who have died from knife crime. They included an outfit donated by the family of a murdered teenager worn at the time of his death.

“Every day, the feeling of helplessness in us parents grows bigger and bigger. If you have kids of a certain age, then you know – that feeling is relentless,” Elba said on the campaign website.

“Every walk to school. Every hug goodbye. You can’t help but wonder if that’s it; that’s the last one.”

While fatal shootings are rare in Britain, knife crime is surging. In the year to June 2023 around 247 people lost their lives where a knife or sharp instrument was involved, with many of those dying being teenage boys or in their early 20s.

In August last year the government announced a ban on machetes and zombie-style knives with no practical use, as well as an increase in the maximum penalty for the importation, manufacturing, possession and sale of these weapons and greater powers for police to seize them.

But it is yet to legislate for the changes and Elba said parliament had not given it the focus it deserved.

(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman, additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Editing by Kate Holton and Angus MacSwan)