Advertisement

We must give youngsters way out of violence, says Cleverly amid knives crackdown

The Home Secretary has defended the Government’s record on tackling knife crime as he announced next steps to ban zombie-style knives.

Fresh legislation is set to be introduced to Parliament on Thursday, which James Cleverly said seeks to “close that loophole” on outlawing the weapons.

Zombie-style knives were first banned in 2016 but ministers hope these tighter measures will stop some retailers being able to sell dangerous knives and machetes without breaking the law.

Ahead of the announcement Mr Cleverly met police chiefs in Kent to discuss youth violence prevention projects and joined officers on a foot patrol of Gravesend town centre.

Labour said the changes had already been promised by six Conservative home secretaries and “loopholes” mean they do not go far enough to be a “comprehensive ban”.

Asked why the legislation has taken so long, Mr Cleverly said: “We have already taken action to make the carrying of zombie knives illegal.

Home Secretary James Cleverly accompanies police officers on a foot patrol on Gravesend High Street during a visit to Kent for an announcement on zombie knives legislation
Home Secretary James Cleverly accompanies police officers on a foot patrol on Gravesend High Street in Kent (Carl Court/PA)

“When I became Home Secretary, I made the immediate decision to go further to put forward this secondary legislation to support what we’ve already done to make the possession of zombie knives illegal and to close that loophole.

“So I’m very pleased we’re taking action now and we’ll be determined to get these knives off the streets.”

Announcing the measures, he added: “We cannot let them be sold to children, and we must give young people a way out of violence.”

The ban, coming into force from September, will make it illegal to possess, sell, manufacture or transport these zombie-style knives and machetes.

So-called zombie knives are currently defined by the Government as a blade with “a cutting edge, a serrated edge and images or words suggesting it is used for violence”.

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.

Mr Cleverly told the PA news agency the steps being taken this week are “further strengthening” the Government’s ability to tackle knife crime.

Home Secretary James Cleverly films a broadcast clip after meeting senior officers and leads of the Kent Violence Reduction Unit during a visit to a Kent police station
Home Secretary James Cleverly during a visit to Kent (Carl Court/PA)

He added: “We’ll add to what has been a success story since 2019. We’ve seen a very significant reduction in knife crime over that time.

“We have a plan which is working and driving down knife crime.”

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

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Six Tory home secretaries have promised these changes, and still they don’t go anywhere near far enough and don’t match Labour’s plans for a comprehensive ban.

“Dangerous weapons like ninja swords, which have been used to kill teenagers, will still be available on Britain’s streets.

“Still, law-breaking online platforms who profit from these illegal sales are being let off with a slap on the wrist instead of facing criminal sanctions. Labour would close these glaring loopholes in the Government’s plans”.

Idris Elba during the launch of his Don’t Stop Your Future campaign in Parliament Square earlier this month
Idris Elba during the launch of his Don’t Stop Your Future campaign in Parliament Square earlier this month (PA)

Actor Idris Elba has also put pressure on the Government through launching the Don’t Stop Your Future campaign calling for the immediate banning of machetes and zombie knives.

The legislation announcement comes as Labour announced a £100 million youth programme to tackle knife crime.

The new plan, a direct echo of New Labour’s SureStart childcare scheme, would see a nationwide targeted programme aimed at identifying and supporting young people at risk of being drawn into violent crime.