Government bans machetes and zombie knives

The government has introduced a new ban on zombie-style knives and machetes that have no practical use and will give police more powers to seize knives

Machetes and zombie-style knives with no practical use will be banned and police will have more powers to seize them in a bid to crack down on their use in devastating street violence.

Under the measures, machetes and knives that are designed to look intimidating and threatening, known as zombie-style knives, will be made illegal.

The maximum penalty for the importation, manufacturing, possession and sale of these newly proscribed weapons will also be increased from six months to two years, as will the maximum penalty for sales to under-18s.

Police will also be given new powers to seize and destroy knives found on private premises if there are reasonable grounds to believe the blade will be used in a serious crime. Previously, police could not seize knives found during a search on a property, even if they had suspicions of criminal use.

In addition, the Home Office will introduce a new offence for possession of bladed articles with the intention to endanger life or cause fear of violence, and will ask the Sentencing Council to consider amending sentencing guidelines for the possession of bladed articles and offensive weapons so these are treated more seriously than possession of a non-prohibited weapons.

Policing Minister Chris Philp said:

"One life lost to knife crime is one too many, and we must do all we can to stop the vile thugs who carry dangerous weapons from their campaign of intimidation and violence.

"Zombie-style knives and machetes serve no other purpose but to inflate criminal egos and endanger lives. There is no reason to own these types of weapons.

"That is why we are banning these knives and making sentencing more severe, so our communities can be reassured that this violent criminality will face the punishments they deserve, and lives will be saved."

Today’s announcement builds on the government’s action taken to take dangerous weapons off our streets, banning zombie knives in 2016 and cyclone knives in 2019.

On the back of the 2016 ban of zombie knives, some retailers continued to sell these kinds of weapons but evaded breaking the law by removing the threatening wording on the blade or handle that incites violence. Today’s announcement closes this loophole, banning these ‘zombie style’ knives and machetes that do not have this threatening writing, but are just as dangerous.

Steel Warriors Head of Operations Christian d’Ippolito said:

"Steel Warriors approve of the new measures regarding the ban of machetes and certain types of knives; weapons like these should not be available to young people, they have no place in modern society and should not be glorified.

"At Steel Warriors we believe that lives should be built by steel, not destroyed by it. We melt down confiscated knives and recycle them into outdoor gyms, we then provide free community classes to transform the lives of young people affected by crime, violence and social exclusion, giving them the confidence they need to create positive futures."

National Police Chiefs’ Council Knife Crime Lead, Commander Stephen Clayman, said:

"Every day as police officers we see first-hand the devastating effects of these deadly weapons on the lives of individuals, particularly young people, and we must always look at what action can be taken to prevent access to knives that are used for violence, intimidation and harm.

"The proposals in the consultation followed extensive collaboration between the Home Office and the NPCC National Knife Crime working group. Together, we worked to develop practical, sustainable solutions to remove these lethal weapons from our streets.

"These five proposals will all offer additional robust measures to deal with those who seek to use knives for violence. Ultimately, when used appropriately, they provide a greater means to protect the public and safeguard our communities.

"We look forward to working with government on the next steps for making these proposals a reality, strengthening our fight against knife crime."

Under a new definition included in these measures, a zombie-style knife is any bladed weapon over eight inches in length with a plain cutting edge and sharp pointed end that also has either a serrated cutting edge, more than one hole in the blade, or multiple sharp points like spikes.

The measures come as the government responds to a public consultation launched in April this year, which carefully considered responses from individuals, manufacturers, retailers and trade organisations that rely on bladed items. Specific exemptions will be made for legitimate articles such as objects of historical importance and those that are hand-made, in order to avoid negative impacts on the antiques market and British-made industries that rely on top-end, high-value blades that are highly unlikely to end up in the hands of criminals.

The new measures are part of the government’s drive to rid communities of serious violence, and follows the removal of 100,000 knives and offensive weapons from our streets through stop and search, surrender initiatives and other targeted police action since 2019.

The government’s Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) are bringing together local partners to tackle the drivers of violence in their area by delivering early intervention and prevention programmes to divert young people away from a life of crime in the 20 areas worst affected by serious violence. They have reached over 215,000 vulnerable young people in their third year of funding alone, with the government investing £170 million into their development.

The measures will be legislated when Parliament allows.

Home Office
The Rt Hon Chris Philp MP