Sadiq Khan slams Government as General Election delays closing zombie knife loophole

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Sadiq Khan has said that a bill completely banning zombie-style knives not passing into law before the General Election is a 'missed opportunity'. Parliament was prorogued on May 24, meaning it will be closed for business until after polling day on July 4.

Before then, there was a period of time known as the 'wash up', as MPs and members of the House of Lords tried to push through legislation before the Palace of Westminster shut its doors. But, the Criminal Justice Bill, which includes a proposal to ban zombie knives, did not make it through royal assent.

All curved swords over 50cm are already banned, with some exceptions, and they cannot be owned, sold, supplied or manufactured. It is against the law to sell a knife or other bladed item to anyone under 18 and that includes sales online.

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Anyone buying a knife online must be subject to age checks, including on delivery. The Government announced in January that the Criminal Justice Bill would ban 'dangerous zombie-style knives and machetes'. It would be illegal to possess, sell, manufacture or transport the blades.

All curved swords over 50cm in length are already banned, with some exceptions, and they cannot be owned, sold, supplied or manufactured. The Government maintains that it banned zombie knives in 2016, as well as cyclone knives in 2019, and introduced a ban on zombie-style knives and machetes earlier this year. This will take effect in September.

But, after the 2016 ban, officials say some retailers 'exploited a loophole' to keep selling the weapons and evade the law. The measures being introduced in the Criminal Justice Bill would have 'put an end to this technicality'.

Mr Khan's team says that plans have been 'outlined' to ban zombie-style knives since 2016, but 'none of the eight Home Secretaries since then have delivered, despite repeated announcements to ban them'.

Weapons 'have no other use than to cause maximum harm'

The mayor said: “The Government’s failure to deliver the Criminal Justice Bill is a betrayal of the safety of our young people and our communities. After years of delaying vital legislation that has allowed these dangerous weapons to continue being sold on our streets and having talked the talk about banning zombie knives for years, they have failed to deliver on their promises.

"This typifies their legacy of dither, delay and inaction. I’m clear that one death at the hands of these weapons is one too many, and earlier this year I wrote to the Home Secretary, urging a total ban on zombie-style knives and machetes once and for all.

"But it is clear my calls, along with the voices of survivors, loved ones of victims and campaigners, have frustratingly fallen on deaf ears. The government are not taking this crisis seriously enough. These weapons have no other use than to cause maximum harm. They must be banned.

“While the government fails to take meaningful action to tackle violence, In London I’m doing everything in my power to keep Londoners safe and prevent and reduce crime and violence in our city, including investing a record £151 million in this year’s budget for policing and crime prevention and tackling the causes of crime.

"From recruiting an extra 1,300 police officers to investing more in youth clubs, creating 250,000 positive opportunities for young Londoners to help steer them away from gangs and crime, I am determined to build a safer London for everyone.”

Tories 'will take no lectures from Sadiq Khan'

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "We will take no lectures from Sadiq Khan on the issue of crime. Knife crime has risen by a shocking 20 per cent last year in Labour-run London. In fact, Khan was the only Police and Crime Commissioner to miss police recruitment targets, failing to recruit 1,000 extra officers even with the money from the Conservative Government available for recruitment.

“We banned zombie knives in 2016 and cyclone knives in 2019 and the sale of illegal knives online is a priority in the Online Safety Act. The choice in this election is clear, stick to the plan with Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives who have driven down crime by 54 per cent since 2010, or go back to square one with Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party who have no plan to cut crime.”