Police concern over teenagers illegally buying knives online

Underage teenagers buying knives online remains “a really concerning picture” for police, with illegal dealers selling weapons via social media.

The national lead for policing knife crime, Commander Stephen Clayman, said forces in England and Wales are keen to cut off the supply of weapons as part of efforts to stop injuries and deaths.

Knives are being sold illegally to under-18s via social media channels including TikTok, Snapchat and those run by Meta, he said.

CRIME Figures
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Speaking ahead of a week of police action to tackle knife crime, he told journalists: “It’s still a really concerning picture in terms of the accessibility of knives online.”

All police forces in England and Wales will ramp up action for a week this month as part of Operation Sceptre, and again in November.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, policing minister Chris Philp has called on police forces to make more use of stop-and-search.

“The police must use the powers available to them without fear or favour,” he wrote.

The chief constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Stephen Watson told the PA news agency that stop-and-search should not be controversial.

In the past three years, the number of stop-and-searches carried out by GMP officers had risen from 11,745 to 46,029, with a rise of 6,600 more positive searches.

Robbery had dropped by 11% in the same period, and since 2020 the number of people admitted to hospital emergency departments with knife injuries had fallen by 27%.

Mr Watson said: “I take the view that if stop-and-search is conducted lawfully, objectively and respectfully, it ought not to be controversial, it’s called police work and we should do it.

“A lot of people would assert that there’s no academic linkage between stop-and-search and reducing crime.

“All I would assert is that in my long history as a police officer, if a force doesn’t act proactively then bad things happen.”

CRIME Figures
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Official figures show that knife crime rose by 7% in the year to December 2023.

In the year to March 2023, 82% of teenage homicide victims were killed with a knife, compared to 73% in the previous year.

The Home Office announced on Tuesday that it would give £3.5 million additional funding for research and development of new technologies which would allow knives to be detected from a distance when a suspect passes through two points.

An additional £547,863 will also be given to the Metropolitan Police to fund four more live facial recognition camera vans.

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Laws around zombie knives, machetes and swords are to be tightened up from September, giving police greater powers to seize weapons found in private properties.

It will be illegal to possess, sell, manufacture or transport zombie-style knives and machetes, and the maximum penalty for the possession of these and other banned weapons will also increase from six months to two years.

A surrender and compensation scheme is due to launch in the summer.