LONDON (Reuters) – So-called “zombie knives” and machetes will be banned in England and Wales from September, the British government said on Wednesday, making it illegal to possess, sell, manufacture or transport them as it seeks to assuage concerns over knife crime.
Legislation will be introduced to parliament on Thursday, the Home Office said, with a surrender scheme planned over the summer to give people who have such knives a chance to voluntarily hand them in.
Actor Idris Elba this month launched a campaign to combat knife crime in Britain, demanding a ban on machetes and zombie knives – bladed weapons originally inspired by zombie films.
While fatal shootings are rare in Britain, knife crime has risen over the past decades. In the year to June 2023 some 247 people lost their lives where a knife or sharp instrument was involved, official data showed, with many of those dying being teenage boys or in their early 20s.
In 1977, there were 135 homicides in England and Wales involving a sharp instrument including knives and broken bottles, according to a parliamentary research briefing. That accounted for 33% of all homicides. By 2021/2022, that had risen to a high of 282 – 41% of all homicides.
“Knife crime continues to take precious lives away, and I am determined to put an end to this senseless violence,” interior minister James Cleverly said in a statement.
Under separate legislation, the government plans to increase the maximum sentence for the possession of banned weapons and give police new powers to seize and destroy knives found on private premises.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Alison Williams)