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Mother whose son was stabbed to death slams new Government zombie knives crackdown as ‘just words’

Tanya Brown, 43, lost her 18-year-old son Connor when he was stabbed to death on a night out with friends in Sunderland in 2019 (Supplied)
Tanya Brown, 43, lost her 18-year-old son Connor when he was stabbed to death on a night out with friends in Sunderland in 2019 (Supplied)

A mother whose son was stabbed to death has slammed the Government’s new zombie knife crackdown as “just words”.

Tanya Brown, 43, lost her 18-year-old son Connor when he was stabbed to death on a night out with friends in Sunderland in 2019.

She set up the Connor Brown Trust in his memory and campaigns to end knife violence but is frustrated at the lack of action she has seen from those in power.

“Banning zombie knives has supposedly been going on for months now yet nothing seems to be happening,” Ms Brown told The Independent.

Amateur boxer Connor Brown, 18, died after he was attacked on a night out with friends in Sunderland city centre, Tyne and Wear in 2019 (Northumbria Police)
Amateur boxer Connor Brown, 18, died after he was attacked on a night out with friends in Sunderland city centre, Tyne and Wear in 2019 (Northumbria Police)

“These zombie knives and machetes are being classed as fashion accessories by young people and they need to be banned.

“Not in the future, not six months down the line, they need to be banned now.

“From a parent’s point of view, from a mother who has lost her son to knife crime, these are just words and words aren’t going to solve anything when it comes to knife crime. I’m angry, to be honest.”

The Conservative government announced its third attempted crackdown on zombie knives since 2016 on Thursday in a bid to close “loopholes” in its previous efforts to ban the dangerous devices.

The new ban will make it illegal to possess, sell, manufacture or transport any of these zombie-style knives and machetes.

Zombie-style knives were first banned in 2016 when the government defined them as having a cutting edge, a serrated edge and “images or words” that suggest violence. In 2019, the government added to the definition to include “cyclone knives”, with two spiralled blades, in a further crackdown.

The Conservative government announced its third attempted crackdown on zombie knives since 2016 on Thursday in a bid to close “loopholes” in its previous efforts to ban the dangerous devices (PA Wire)
The Conservative government announced its third attempted crackdown on zombie knives since 2016 on Thursday in a bid to close “loopholes” in its previous efforts to ban the dangerous devices (PA Wire)

Ms Brown added: “I’ve been more proactive in my approach in such a small way than the Government with actual power has been.

“I can’t be the law. I can’t ban these knives - but the Government can. If they step up and are proactive only then will we see a change.”

Ministers hope new tighter measures, which won’t come into place until September, will stop some retailers being able to sell dangerous knives and machetes without breaking the law.

A loophole meant that knives banned in 2019 had to have threatening words or pictures on them, meaning manufacturers responded by simply “taking the words and pictures off”, Policing minister Chris Philp admitted to LBC on Thursday.

A surrender scheme is also being put in place for people to give up their weapons before the law comes into force without any consequences.

The government is also seeking to toughen the penalties for people possessing banned weapons by increasing the maximum sentence from six months to two years.

The government is seeking to toughen the penalties for people possessing banned weapons by increasing a maximum sentence from six months to two years (PA Wire)
The government is seeking to toughen the penalties for people possessing banned weapons by increasing a maximum sentence from six months to two years (PA Wire)

Founder of the Dwayne Simpson Foundation Lorraine Jones, who lost her son to knife crime when he was just 20-years-old, also called for further Government action.

Her son Dwayne was killed after he was stabbed through the heart with a sword in Brixton, south London in 2014.

She urged the Government on Thursday morning to bring “mothers to the table” to allow them to be a part of the solution, which she says stems from poverty.

“If the Government are really serious and they really care, they need to bring us as mothers around the table, [speak to] grassroots organisations, and make us a part of the solution,” she told Sky News.

“Invest in us so we can help these kids. They are precious. You can’t just send them all to prison.

She added: “I go in to the prisons, I hear how they speak. It’s a nightmare in prison they need help. There needs to be restorative justice but there’s not enough money to pay workers to go in there and do this.

“so they’re in there just festering, and when they come out they re-offend.”

Aurelie Rivkah Tshiama, fundraiser at the Dwayne Simpson Foundation also told Sky News: “I respect the reactive approach but I believe we have to go with a more proactive approach. I don’t believe everyone is born a bad apple, I believe it all starts with how we nurture the seed.

She added: “I think it’s about going to the root and making sure the environment they grow up in serves them so whenever they are in front of a confrontation of sort the result is not picking up a knife but rather solving it amicably.”

Idris Elba stood in front of an installation of over 200 bundles of clothing representing the lives lost to knife crime in the UK earlier this month (Getty Images for Don't Stop Your)
Idris Elba stood in front of an installation of over 200 bundles of clothing representing the lives lost to knife crime in the UK earlier this month (Getty Images for Don't Stop Your)

The ban comes as actor Idris Elba put pressure on the government by launching the ‘Don’t Stop Your Future’ campaign, which calls for the immediate banning of machetes and zombie knives.

Speaking on the new measures this morning, the campaigner said they only solve “some” of the issues related to knife crime and has “concerns” about whether the legislation is achievable.

“I think that the announcement does step in the right direction of some of the issues that we are dealing with, but only some of them,” he told BBC Radio 4

He added: “Unfortunately it doesn’t ban all knives, including swords. However, the significant step towards zombie knives and machetes is something that I think is really important. There are things we would love to see and all loopholes really addressed.”

He also urged politicians to listen to communities and victims about issues surrounding knife crime and suggested criminalisation may not solve the problem.

“I think it is really important to remember that we have to figure out what happens next,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“There are young people who are carrying knives out of safety issues and different reasons, and we do not want to criminalise these people without offering them an opportunity to feel safe, to feel that their whole community is getting involved.

“I think that there is some critical thinking that needs to be done about how we actually implement this ban.”