Ban ‘zombie knives’ and machetes now, Idris Elba says

Idris Elba is calling on the government to immediately ban the sale of so-called "zombie" knives and machetes, to reduce the number of young people losing their lives.

The Luther star told the BBC a planned law change to bring in the ban need to be fast-tracked.

He accused politicians of not giving the issue "the focus it deserves".

The Home Office has previously announced plans to give police more powers to seize knives.

Clothes to represent the victims of knife crime will be displayed in London's Parliament Square on Monday.

Organisers hope the bundles of clothes will provide a visual demonstration of the huge human cost of knife crime to MPs returning from the Christmas recess.

A display at Parliament Square is intended to be a tribute to the lives lost

The event is part of Elba's Don't Stop Your Future campaign, which works with local communities and well-known brands to try to tackle serious violence.

London-born Elba said he "can't stay silent as young lives are lost to brutal and heartless crimes".

'A mother's gut instinct'

Yemi Hughes, whose 19-year-old son Andre Aderemi was murdered in 2016, has given her support to Elba's campaign - and has donated the outfit her son was wearing when he was killed.

Andre was stabbed multiple times in broad daylight in Croydon, south London.

Speaking to the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme, Ms Hughes said that she had dropped her son off "with a heavy heart".

"I don't know why I said those words, I suppose it's a mother's gut instinct," but he looked at me with a great big smile and said, 'Don't worry mum, I'll be fine, I love you," and with that I drove off."

Within 20 minutes, Ms Hughes had received a phone call from a friend's mother who said someone had been stabbed.

"I knew she was talking about Andre even though she hadn't said his name, and then she let out this almighty scream that I'd never forget, she'd obviously seen it was him."

By the time Ms Hughes got to the scene, ambulances and police were already there. She followed the ambulance to the hospital, where they received the news that her son had died.

Ms Hughes has spoken of her frustration that knife crime is still a big problem: "Our individual voices have not been heard but yet our pain continues to be felt by families whose children are still being murdered.

"Young people need to feel safe in their communities and underlying causes of youth violence eradicated immediately."

Elba is also releasing a single, Knives Down, in support of his campaign.

The track is about his frustration with the government for what he perceives as their inaction on knife crime.

Speaking to the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme, Elba said he wants more funding for groups working with young people.

The actor says he cannot 'stay silent' on knife crime

Although best known as an actor, Elba has released music and collaborated with artists such as Jay-Z and James Blake.

His biggest hit came when he provided guest vocals on Wiley's hit Boasty in 2019.

The latest police figures for England and Wales from July 2022 to June 2023 show that around 247 people lost their lives due to knife crime.

Those numbers do not include teenagers like 15-year-old Alfie Lewis who was fatally stabbed in Leeds in November 2023 or 16-year-old Harry Pitman, who was killed on New Year's Eve 2023.

Their deaths will be recorded in the next set of crime figures.

Elba's Don't Stop Your Future campaign is also pleading for the immediate ban of zombie knives and machetes.

Zombie knives are defined as weapons having "a cutting edge, a serrated edge and images or words suggesting they are used for violence".

They were first added to the government's list of prohibited offensive weapons in 2016 but Labour has said a loophole allowing the sale of the weapons online still exists.

In August 2023, Rishi Sunak unveiled plans to ban more of the weapons and give police extra powers to seize machetes and zombie knives. But it is not clear when the new law will come into force.

Patrick Green from the Ben Kinsella Trust has said action is needed now: "Four months have passed since we were promised the legislation we so desperately need to ban these weapons, yet the Bill has only just started its agonisingly slow journey through Parliament.

"The government has demonstrated that when they deem it necessary, parliamentary time can be found to expedite Bills with urgency.

"So, why, when we know that these knives are being used to take the lives of our children, are they not prioritising a ban with the same urgency?"

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.