Express & Star

Call for machete sale ban is backed by ministers and MPs

The Policing Minister today announced plans for a consultation aimed at getting deadly machete blades off our streets.

Cam'Ron Dunn hunted down Derlano Samuels and stabbed him with a machete

Chris Philp MP said he “completely understands” the concerns of people across the Black Country and Staffordshire over knife crime, after a number of murders across the region in recent years.

It comes after a senior police officer in the region’s call for an outright ban on the sale of machetes was backed by MPs and peers from both major parties.

Mr Philp told the Express & Star he was aware of the death of 20-year-old Bailey Atkinson from Bloxwich, after a knife attack in Walsall earlier this year.

More heartbreak has followed over the weekend after another man, aged, 29, was stabbed to death at Walsall nightclub on Saturday.

He said: “I completely understand the concerns that people across the Black Country will have with regard to knife crime.

“It is my intention to consult on possession of a wider range of dangerous knives to determine how we can best tackle this problem and prevent these weapons from reaching the streets.”

Policing Minister Chris Philp

West Midlands Police Federation chairman Richard Cooke has called for a ban on the sale of machetes. He said coupled with other measures, including the widespread proactive use of stop and search powers and a focus on neighbourhood policing, such legislation would help police crackdown on knife crime.

In a bid to clamp down on it, the force has been named as a pilot area for serious violence reduction orders, which will allow officers to stop and search convicted weapons offenders without needing a reason.

Knife crime is rampant across the region, which has the highest number of offences outside London, with nearly 5,000 recorded in the year to June 2022 – a near 50 per cent increase.

There have been a series of deaths in recent years. They include the murder of 15-year-old Keelan Wilson, who died after being stabbed 43 times in a frenzied machete attack in Wolverhampton in 2018.

Another Wolverhampton teenager, Zane Smart, died after a single stab wound to the chest in Pendeford in May 2022.

In August 2021, Martin Howells, 31, died after being attacked with a machete in a Wolverhampton street.

Bailey Atkinson was stabbed to death in Walsall

Last July Cam'ron Dunn was jailed for a minimum life term of almost 19 years for the machete murder of teenager Derlano Samuels in Smethwick.

This year as well as the fatal stabbing of Mr Atkinson, 18-year-old Jack Lowe died after being stabbed in Darlaston and 23-year-old Cody Fisher was knifed on the dance floor of a Birmingham nightclub and died at the scene.

Police say the blades often used in violent attacks can easily be bought online or in stores. These include machetes and so-called rainbow knives, which feature a multi-coloured sheen on the blade.

Sgt Cooke highlighted the killing of 51-year-old Stephen McCarron in Bartley Green in March last year, which saw Tamari Greaves, 20, convicted of manslaughter.

Both men had been armed, and the investigation found that the machete held by Mr McCarron had been bought from a bushcraft store in Staffordshire, while Greaves had two zombie knives that had been bought online.

Sgt Cooke said: “There is no doubt we are seeing an increase in the use of these types of knives, that despite current legislation, are still readily available to buy in this country. We need to make it as difficult as possible for criminals to get their hands on deadly knives.”

Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes has backed the calls

Politicians from across the region have given their support for a ban on the sale of machetes.

Eddie Hughes, Conservative MP for Walsall North, is lobbying ministers over the issue. He said: “Following the tragic murder of my constituent, Bailey Atkinson, I am determined to give the police the support they need to take knives of our streets.

“The best way to do this is to prevent their sale in the first place. There is simply no reason for allowing easy access to machetes and rainbow knives, and I completely endorse measures to address a problem causing genuine concern across the region.”

Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden, said: “Without safety on our streets, people don’t have the freedom to live their lives. Knife crime is a terrifying problem in our community, and it is every parent’s worst nightmare to think their son or daughter could be a victim of such a crime.

“We need strict controls on who can buy knives and we need them to be properly enforced, both online and in store. On the calls for specific types of knife to be banned, it’s hard to see why anyone in the UK needs to legally own something like a machete.”

Former Dudley North MP Lord Austin, said: “It is a disgrace that these knives are still being sold, young people are able to buy them and people are being stabbed or killed on our streets.

"People selling these knives to young people should be prosecuted and the rest of us should boycott their shops or the online retailers selling them.”

Suzanne Webb, Conservative MP for Stourbridge, has lobbied ministers on behalf of the Justice For Ryan campaign, which raises awareness of issues surrounding knife crime in memory of Ryan Passey, who was stabbed to death in 2017. She is due to hold a debate on knife crime in Parliament tomorrow.

She said: “We do need to listen to officers on the frontline and I would be happy to meet with the Police Federation to hear what is happening on our streets with a view to support a ban on machetes and similar weapons

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb is hosting a debate on knife crime tomorrow in Parliament

“I cannot think of any reason why anyone would carry such a weapon unless violence is around the corner. If a ban breaks the cycle and stops injury and death then it must be seriously considered.

“Knife crime destroys lives and families and it is blighting our communities. We only have to think of Ryan Passey to know this. I am so concerned I am holding a debate in parliament on this issue.

“I think we all agree more action is needed and the government has already acted by making the West Midlands one of four pilot areas for serious violence reduction orders.”

Marco Longhi, Conservative MP for Dudley North, said he disagreed with the arguments of “libertarian purists” who were against a machete ban. He said: “They aren’t the ones facing the mindless thugs brandishing these lethal tools. Nor do they have to witness the bloodbath of a machete attack.

“So I want to back our brave coppers and I will support legislation to remove machetes. They have no place on our high streets.

“I’ll wait for the ‘what about the knives’ comments but my reply will be that one less machete is like one less gun.

“The more we remove the safer we will all be, including the police officers who are the ones running towards danger while the rest of us go the other way.

"This legislation will support the front line of policing. They deserve it. I just wished police leadership also focussed on common-sense ways to support them, rather than the woke agenda that pervades most public services.”

The sale of zombie knives is banned

Zombie knife law loophole 'exploited' by retailers

It has been seven years since the sale of zombie knives was banned following a campaign by the Express & Star and police and crime commissioner David Jamieson.

But although possession of such weapons is now punishable by up to four years behind bars, they are still finding their way into the hands of criminals.

Retailers are still able to sell vicious blades providing they do not feature images or words. This means anyone aged 18 or over can buy machetes – which often have blades measuring more than 20 inches – from shops or online sites.

A site visited by the Express & Star offered a range of knives including stiletto knives, curved-blade karambit knives – marketed as “among some of the coolest knives available”, throwing knives and machetes. One machete, measuring 18 inches and featuring a stainless steel blade, was available for under £14.

The same weapons are available in high street stores, which under current laws are supposed to ask anyone who they think may be under 25 for identification. However, a key problem with the policy was evident during ‘test purchasing’ conducted by West Midlands Police before Christmas. When an undercover officer attempted to buy knives in nine stores, only two asked to see ID, despite the officer being under-25.

Richard Cooke, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, said: “It summed up one of the major problems we have with retailers. Even with the shops that sold these weapons without asking for ID, we can’t prosecute and the limit of our powers is to do an educational visit.

“It is a similar issue with online retailers, where couriers are supposed to ask to see ID, but very few actually do.”

Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine of West Midlands Police

Region's knife crime rate is highest in country

West Midlands Police recorded the highest rate of knife crime in the country over the past year, according to new official figures.

Data published by the House of Commons Library shows the force recorded 152 offences involving a knife per 100,000 population in 2021-22 – the highest rate in England and Wales.

Separate figures from West Midlands Police show machetes were used in 1,894 crimes in the region in 2022, with possession, assault and robbery the most common offences. Meanwhile the number of young people in the region charged with knife crime offences is on the rise.

According to West Midlands Police, last year charges were brought against more than 1,000 knife crime suspects under the age of 26. This includes two suspects who were aged just 11 and four youngsters who were charged with murder.

And over the last five years the number of children involved in knife crime in the West Midlands has almost tripled. In the coming weeks the force is set to launch a serious youth violence strategy, which aims to reduce youth crime by focusing on early intervention.

A report by Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine, says gang violence among under-25s is a “tactical priority” for the force, which has targeted 57 youth violence hotspots around the region where extra officers can be deployed.

It says over 12 months recorded offences for youth violence with injury increased by 965 to 8,335– a rise of 13.2 per cent.