Express & Star

Exclusive: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer's personal pledge to tackle knife crime

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer writes for the Star with a promise to outlaw sales of zombie blades and machetes.

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When I read the details of Shawn Seesahai’s murder in East Park last November, I was shocked to my core.

I led our country’s Crown Prosecution Service for five years, but I have never encountered a case like this.

That a murder so brutal could be carried out by 12-year-olds is something hard to believe. How do young children have access to machetes?

Unfortunately, this question has hung, unanswered, over communities across the West Midlands for too long. Because Shawn is sadly not the first young man to have had a lifetime of potential stolen from him because of knife crime.

Murdered – Shawn Seesahai

In fact, the West Midlands now has the highest rate of knife crime in England and Wales. And in each case an utterly devastated family is left behind.

When I met the family of Ronan Kanda – the teenager murdered in Lanesfield in 2022 – I was blown away by their determination to stand up for victims. But as they shared Ronan’s story, I found my emotions turning towards disbelief and then anger. Because the weapon his teenage murderers used was not a knife, but a sword.

A sword ordered online, collected from the Post Office, and then used as easily as if it had been a football.

Murdered teenager Ronan Kanda

I made a promise to Ronan’s mum, Pooja, that if Labour formed the next government, we would ban the ninja swords that killed her son. And we will.

But today I make a promise to families across the West Midlands who have seen their children maimed or killed by machetes, zombie knifes and other vicious weapons that have no purpose other than brutality – we will ban them too.

The Tories have promised this ban 17 times. But as with so much, they have failed to back words up with action, leaving several legal loopholes unclosed.

Make no mistake – Labour will get this sorted. And if big tech companies still refuse to take these knives off their site, then we will take them on as well. We’ll also get 13,000 extra neighbourhood police on our streets, paid for by cutting down on bureaucracy and waste.

We’ll improve community services, with a new Young Futures programme intervening early to spot young people who might turn towards crime. And we’ll toughen up sanctions for those caught carrying a knife.

At the moment some knife-carriers are let off with warnings, apology letters or even no consequences at all. Labour will change that – every young person caught with a knife will be referred to a dedicated youth offending team.

These measures may not seem flashy. But taken together, they represent a credible plan.

No family should have to go through what Ronan’s family went through. No community should wake up to find a young man like Shawn murdered by children in their local park.

I can’t promise bad things will never happen.

But if you back Labour next week – I can promise you a new plan to turn back this tide of violence.