The Home Office said the policy hadn’t been changed, and that the original release was wrong and was corrected
Tory Ministers quietly changed an announcement on zombie knife guidance this week – removing a commitment to mandatory jail time.
The Home Office announced a new law to ban the huge knives and machetes on January 25, to take effect in September. The original announcement warned “anyone in possession of one of these knives will face time behind bars.” But it was edited this week, changing the text to read only that they “may” face jail time.
The Home Office said the policy hadn’t been changed, and that the original release was wrong and was corrected. But it follows a row over whether jail time should be mandatory for people possessing zombie knives.
Rich Cooke, chair of the West Midlands Police Federation warned this week that “the legislation doesn’t go far enough. Secure detention should be mandatory.” However actor Idis Elba warned against criminalising young men caught up in a cycle of violence, saying there was no “one size fits all” deterrent to get knives off the streets.
Alex Norris MP, Labour ’s Shadow Policing Minister, said: “Six Tory Home Secretaries have promised to ban zombie knives and yet again this latest announcement doesn’t go far enough in getting dangerous knives off our streets. It doesn’t even include a ban on ninja swords.”
He added: The public will be shocked that the Conservatives have sneakily watered down their flawed ban, to no fanfare. When it comes to keeping the streets safe, time and time again this government overpromise and underdeliver. Labour would introduce a comprehensive ban on zombie knives and extend this to cover ninja swords too. We’ll also crackdown on online sales by making sure that the law-breaking online platforms who profit from illegal sales face criminal sanctions rather than a slap on the wrist.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our knife crime laws are amongst the toughest in the world. Anyone caught in possession of a banned weapon will face jail as a possible punishment and this is mandatory for a second time offence – our proposals have not changed. We amended the press notice on GOV.UK for clarity as while first time offenders will still face up to 4 years in jail, sentences are ultimately a matter for the courts to decide.”