London: A ban on the sale of so-called “zombie knives” is set to come into force in England and Wales this week after police found that the weapon, inspired by horror films, was becoming increasingly popular among criminals.
The zombie knives or curved blades with serrated edges are often sold as collectors’ items, but police say they are increasingly being carried by criminals. Last year a north London teenager was killed with one of the weapons. Safeguarding minister Sarah Newton said the ban would “keep communities safe”.
Sold under brand names like “head splitter” and “zombie killer”, the weapons can be bought on the internet for as little as 8 pounds. Product descriptions suggest they are for use in horror-film situations like “defending oneself from the undead”, or as part of an “apocalypse kit”.
The new legislation, banning the sale, manufacture, rental or importation of zombie knives will take effect on Thursday. Anyone caught breaking the law will face up to four years in prison, the BBC reported.
In April, 17-year-old Blaise Lewinson was convicted of manslaughter after stabbing teenager Stefan Appleton to death with a zombie knife in Islington, north London. Newton said “zombie killer knives” glamorise violence, cause devastating damage and have “no place whatsoever in our society”.
Alf Hitchcock, lead on knife crime at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said police were pleased that legislation had been introduced “early” to tackle the “growing problem” of zombie knives. He said the “vast majority” of knife crimes involved kitchen knives, but zombie knives had “suddenly become very popular as a sign of bravado in gangs”.
“In weapons sweeps we’ve been finding these weapons on the street, hidden in places for use,” he said. “When we’ve seen gang videos being uploaded on to the internet they’ve been bragging about having these knives.”
Carrying a knife in public without good reason is already illegal across the UK. The legal change in England and Wales will outlaw selling, manufacturing, renting or importing zombie knives.
There has been a 12 per cent decrease in crimes involving knives in the last five years, according to police figures for England and Wales. However, police recorded 28,664 such offences in 2015-16- a 10 per cent rise on the previous 12 months.
There were 214 suspected homicides in England and Wales where a knife or sharp instrument was used in 2015-16. The number of deaths has varied between 187 and 237 in the past five years.