Plans to close legal loophole on use of machetes and zombie knives
More machetes and zombie knives could be banned in England and Wales, with criminals who buy or sell them facing up to two years in jail under Government plans.
Certain types of the blades which are “designed to look menacing” and “with the intention to threaten” are not currently prohibited, but would be outlawed under the measures, the Home Office said.
Police would also be given more powers to seize and destroy the weapons, while criminals would face tougher sentences for their sale and possession, according to a seven-week consultation on the proposals launched on Tuesday (April 18).
While some machetes and similar knives can have “legitimate uses”, such as in gardening, criminals are “buying, selling and using larger bladed articles as weapons to intimidate and cause others serious harm”, the Home Office warned.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “The thugs wielding these deadly knives aim to terrorise their victims and the public, and too often even carry out horrific or fatal attacks.
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“They are emboldened by the cowardly idea that carrying these blades inflates their own status and respect.
“This can’t go on. These plans seek to give the police greater powers to seize and destroy these weapons and impose harsher penalties on the criminals selling them, keeping them off our streets and making communities safer.”
Earlier this month, a judge urged jurors to write to their MPs about the “shocking” availability of dangerous weapons online after a young man was found guilty of killing another 18-year-old with a 22-inch long zombie knife.
Emadh Miah, 18, faces life in prison when he is sentenced next week after murdering Ghulam Sadiq, who he ambushed and stabbed near his home in Leytonstone, east London, in August last year.
Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Linda Bradley said: “I cannot help but reflect that large knives and machetes being sold online is open to abuse and lamentably continues to be a risk to the public.”
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Offences covering the importing, manufacturing, selling or supplying of prohibited offensive weapons, and selling blades to children, would carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison if the plans come into force.
Under current laws, if police find a machete or other legal blade in someone’s home they cannot seize or act on this, even if they believe the items will be used in crime.
Giving police more powers will allow officers to seize certain blades even if the items are not prohibited, the Home Office said.
It stressed that any changes would “carefully define” which knives would be banned.
The Government is also considering whether to create a new offence for “carrying a bladed item with the intention to injure or cause fear”.
And the consultation is looking at whether the criminal justice system should treat public possession of knives and other offensive weapons more seriously.
Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust – which was set up in 2008 following the fatal stabbing of the 16-year-old in north London, welcomed the plans and said: “These weapons have no legitimate purpose and only serve to glamorise violence and intimidate others.
“They are often used by gangs and criminals to inflict serious harm and create fear on our streets. By taking them off the streets, we will reduce the risk of serious violence and save lives.”
The announcement comes as, from Wednesday, four police forces start to test out civil court powers called serious violence reduction orders allowing officers to stop, detain and search offenders who have previously been convicted of knife or offensive weapon offences.
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