Do you know that Knife crime has increased by 34% in the last decade in England and Wales, prompting home secretary Suella Braverman to launch a review. Criminals who purchase or trade machete and so-called zombie knives could henceforth face long prison sentences in England and Wales as the government aims to impose tougher restrictions to prevent knife crime.
According to the latest official figures, Knife crimes has increased by 9% in the last year and 34% in the past decade with an estimated 45,000 offences taking place in England and Wales in the year ending March 2022. So then, what is a zombie knife?
What is a Zombie knife?
A Zombie knife is described as a knife which has a long, menacing blade. It was named after the knives often used by characters in zombie films. Often featuring both a straight edge and a serrated one, they have become notorious for use in connection to criminal activity and violence in the community.
A zombie knife is usually customised with gory or intimidating words and imagery (inscriptions) because of the fact that they are mostly used by criminals. Zombie knives are already included in the list of banned knives, meaning it is illegal to possess them, bring them into the UK, sell or hire them out or lend them to someone.
Are zombie knives illegal?
Machetes and other knives blades can have ‘legitimate uses’, like the ones being used for gardening, agriculture or culinary purposes. However, this has made laws/degrees regarding the possession of knives complicated for the police – it means certain blades can be kept at home and remain unseized by the police.
It is also illegal to use any knife or weapon in a threatening way, carry most knives in public without a ‘good reason’ such as for work purposes, or to sell most knives or any weapons to anyone under the age of 18.
iNews reports that any adult found guilty of carrying a knife or weapon illegally faces a maximum penalty of either four years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. If convicted of carrying a knife or weapon illegally more than once, they will receive a prison sentence. But this only applies to the weapons which meet the three criteria: cutting edge, serrated edge and words or images that imply they are to be used for violence.
How are ministers clamping down on knife crime?
In 2016, Theresa May, who was home secretary at the time, the government said that legislation would be introduced to outlaw zombie knives. That same year, it announced a restriction ban on the sale, importation and manufacture of zombie knives across England and Wales.
When Amber Rudd followed in 2018, the government said a new Offensive Weapons Bill would make it illegal to possess certain offensive weapons such as zombie knives in private.
The bill received royal assent in 2019, prompting the Government to say that the Offensive Weapons Act would also prohibit the sale of bladed products to a residential address without age verification.
During his stint as Home Secretary, Sajid Javid said the laws would give police ‘extra powers to seize dangerous weapons and ensure knives are less likely to make their way onto the streets’, according to BBC News.
And with Priti Patel at the helm in 2021, the Home Office said owners of zombie knives and knuckledusters, and some other weapons, could be sentenced to time in jail if found possessing them, under the Offensive Weapons Act.
Current 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.
‘They are emboldened by the cowardly idea that carrying these blades inflates their own status and respect.’