Express & Star

Our knife crime crisis – killer weapons still available for teenagers to buy online

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

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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.

Recent figures revealed the West Midlands is one of the worst areas hit by 'blade-related' crime in England and Wales.

Statistics on the number of knife-related offences show that the Metropolitan Policing area was the worst hit nationally by crimes involving sharp weapons. However, when judged by the size of the population, The West Midlands Policing area had a higher rate of knife crime than its London or Manchester counterparts.

The petition was set up by Ronan Kanda's mother Pooja Kanda, called for the sale of machetes, zombie knives and other threatening blades online to be banned.

There have been a series of murders in our region in recent years, with many of the victims in their teens. In many cases minor disputes have escalated and ended up with a fatal stabbing.

Speaking ahead of a week of police action to tackle knife crime, Commander Clayman said: "It's still a really concerning picture in terms of the accessibility of knives online."

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

The new tighter laws are coming in following a campaign by the family of murdered schoolboy Ronan Kanda, backed by the Express & Star. They handed a petition to Downing Street calling for an outright ban on zombie knives and ninja swords.

Ronan Kanda

Ronan, aged 16, was stabbed to death in Lanesfield, Wolverhampton, in 2022, metres from his home after being attacked with a ninja sword bought online by his murderer.

Ronan Kanda's family deliver the petition to 10 Downing Street

He was attacked with a ninja sword and a machete by 17-year-olds Prabjeet Veadhesa and Sukhman Shergill, who were jailed for a total of 34 years for his murder. It had been a case of mistaken identity.

The court heard the attackers had managed to buy their weapons online.

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 said.

Official figures show that knife crime rose by seven per cent in the year to December 2023.

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

Of 49,489 offences recorded in the 12 months to December 2023, 29 per cent (14,577) were recorded by the Metropolitan Police, 11 per cent (5,324) by the West Midlands Police and five per cent (2,349) by West Yorkshire Police.

The Home Office revealed this week 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.

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.

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