Enough is enough: Ban the sale of deadly blades
Lethal machetes, lock knives and swords are being sold by shops in the Black Country which have been accused of exploiting a loophole in the law.
The Express & Star was able to buy a zombie knife-style ‘long reach’ machete with a 17-inch (43.2cm) blade and a serrated edge for just £13.90 from The Deal Maker shop in Wolverhampton city centre.
The store is just around the corner from the city’s main youth club and yards away from the scene of a knife fight involving youths that took place last week, on the same day that 15-year-old Keelan Wilson was stabbed to death.
As part of an investigation into the ease of availability of weapons on our streets, we also bought a lock knife, a set of three throwing knives (pictured) and a ‘Ninja’ sword for less than £40 from a shop in Dudley.
Incredibly the weapons are all legal under UK law.
Our reporter was able to buy them in a matter of minutes after flashing ID to shop staff and jotting down his name and address on a scrap of paper. His details have not been checked.
The sale of these deadly blades has been branded ‘disgraceful’ by council leaders and MPs, who have joined the E&S in calling for an outright ban on their sale.
The newspaper has today launched a change.org petition calling for Home Secretary Sajid Javid to urgently change the law.
WATCH: Pete Madeley and Alex Ross on sale of deadly blades
Wolverhampton council leader Roger Lawrence is among those to support the campaign.
He said: “These knives should not be sold anywhere under any circumstances. They have no place in a civilised society.”
Dudley North MP Ian Austin said: “We need to get these vicious weapons banned for good.”
Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden said: “I can see no good reason why knives like this are on sale. The Government should act on this as soon as possible.”
Too many victims
The West Midlands is in the midst of a deadly violent crimewave, which has seen eight people stabbed to death so far this year and arrests for knife possession at their highest ever level.
Yesterday police arrested a 16-year-old youth on suspicion of murdering schoolboy Keelan Wilson, who was knifed to death just yards from his home in the Merry Hill area of Wolverhampton, last week.
Violent crime across the region is up 30 per cent in the last nine years, according to the Home Office, with an 11 per cent rise in the last year alone.
Mr Javid has agreed to meet West Midlands MPs to discuss knife and violent crime in the wake of the spate of murders and stabbings.
The Deal Maker, a pawnbrokers that has branches in Salop Street, Wolverhampton and Castle Street, Dudley, holds a vast array of weapons, all of which are classed as legal to sell.
The store insists it carries out stringent identification checks and has records of all sales ready to provide to police if requested.
The 'long-reach' machete bought by the E&S’s reporter is identical to a zombie knife, but is not on the Government’s banned sales list as it does not contain any images or words suggesting it could be used for violence.
Two identical weapons were seized by police from a car in the West Midlands earlier this week.
‘Ninja’ swords are classed as legal, despite having a razor-sharp 19-inch (48.3cm) flat blade. To be banned from sale a sword must have a curved blade and be more than 50cm long.
The sale of zombie knives was banned in the UK in 2016 following a campaign by the E&S and West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson.
A complete ban on their possession will soon be brought in as part of the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy.
Trading standards officials in Dudley and Wolverhampton say they have no powers to intervene on the sale of legal weapons, although they insist they will throw the book at any businesses found breaking the law.
Dudley councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said: “We carry out a number of test purchases of knives at shops across the borough, to see if knives are being sold illegally to people under 18.
“Any businesses breaking the law are dealt with by the police.
“Until the law changes we will continue to provide help and advice within our legal remit.”
A spokesperson for Wolverhampton council said: “As a council, we have a duty to ensure residents feel safe in our city. Unfortunately, as it is not against the law, knives are easy to obtain.
“Our trading standards team works closely with West Midlands Police to make sure stores who sell knives are carrying out the necessary identification requirements before purchase, to prevent knives falling into the wrong hands.”
West Midlands Police refused to comment.