Ban on home deliveries of knives in government crackdown after surge in London stabbings

Urgent legislation will also make it illegal to possess zombie knives and knuckle-dusters in private - or any knife on further education premises

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Sunday 08 April 2018 09:29 BST
Cressida Dick on London knife crime spike: 'We clearly, as a city, have a big problem'

Anyone buying a knife online will be banned from having it sent to a residential address, under a government crackdown following a surge in street stabbings.

New legislation, to be brought forward within weeks, will also make it illegal to possess zombie knives and knuckledusters in private – or any knife on further education premises.

Rapid firing rifles will be banned and the legal definition for threatening someone with an offensive weapon changed to make prosecutions easier.

The measures – which also include a ban on acid sales to under-18s – will all be included in a new “serious violence strategy”, to be launched by the home secretary, Amber Rudd, on Monday.

It follows six shootings and stabbings in London in the past week alone and more than 50 murders in the capital in just the first three months of the year.

The strategy will mark a “major shift in the government’s response to knife crime and gun crime”, Ms Rudd will argue, while striking “a balance between prevention and robust law enforcement”.

“This government has always stood for law and order and to tackle violent crime effectively, robust legislation and powerful law enforcement must be in place,” the home secretary said.

“That’s why we will introduce a new offensive weapons bill that includes a new offence of possessing acid in public without good reason, prevents sales of acids to under 18s and stops knives being sent to people’s homes when bought online.”

Ms Rudd also insisted the government is fully behind the police wish to use stop and search powers, after one of Britain’s most senior police chiefs said the backlash against them had gone too far.

She added: “Stop and search is a vital policing tool and officers will always have the government’s full support to use these powers properly.”

Most of the package of new powers was first unveiled last October, at the Conservative Party conference, which took place after a series of horrific acid attacks. It also includes:

* Updating the definition of a flick knife to reflect “changing weapon designs”.

* Making it a criminal offence to possess corrosive substances in a public place.

* A consultation on tougher stop and search powers to enable the police to seize acid from people carrying it without good reason – rather than simply when they have an intention to cause injury.

Ms Rudd added: “I see no good reason why any young person should be carrying a corrosive substance in the street, so I am also announcing that we will consult on extending stop and search powers to include acid.”

Labour said the measures were “welcome”, but said the police’s ability to use them had been “completely undermined” by the loss of 21,000 officers since 2010.

“Talking tough is not enough,” said Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary. “This announcement ignores the factors which we know contribute to crime, including a lack of decent work opportunities for young people, cuts to health services and decline in community policing.

“The Tories need to put their money where their mouth is, give the police the resources they need to keep people safe and pursue a collaborative approach to tackling violent crime on our streets.”

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