Brixton MP Helen Hayes promotes law to ban zombie knives and machetes

Metropolitan police seized this knife from a 16-year-old in South London

Brixton MP Helen Hayes will introduce a Bill to ban the possession of “zombie” knives, machetes and “ninja swords” – in the House of Commons on tomorrow (23 January).

These lethal weapons are increasingly being used in serious violence across the country, including in South London, but legal loopholes mean many weapons are not effectively covered by existing bans, she said. Enforcement of existing bans was also weak and ineffective.

The government said in 2016, when Theresa May was home secretary, that work was under way to create laws to tackle these weapons and has re-announced these plans regularly since then – while failing to take meaningful action. The latest government re-announcement was in August 2023.

Despite growing calls for a ban including from actor Idris Elba and London mayor Sadiq Khan, the government has yet to introduce the necessary legislation.

Zombie knives and machetes have been linked to the murder of several young people since the government’s latest announcement in August, including the killings of Ronaldo Scott and Keelen Wong last autumn in Brixton.

The government has repeatedly promised to implement a ban “when parliamentary time allows”.

Research by the House of Commons library found that there were 21 days in 2023 where the House of Commons rose early with enough time remaining to debate the necessary secondary legislation. This includes seven days after the government announced its latest plans for a ban in August 2023.

Helen Hayes’ Bill would end the delay and implement the ban on so-called “zombie” knives and other large hunting knives. By including “ninja swords” in the ban, the Bill would also close significant gaps in the government’s proposals.

The MP, who represents the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency that includes much of central Brixton, said: “Every life lost to serious violence is a tragedy. It is absolutely devastating for the family and friends of the victims and the entire community.

“There is fantastic work happening across Dulwich and West Norwood to support young and tackle serious violence. However, this work needs to be backed up by action from central government.

“No-one needs a hunting knife or zombie-style knife in London – these are dangerous weapons and the appalling injuries they can inflict mean their victims have little chance of survival.

“Despite their increasing use in serious violence across the country, the government has failed to take the action needed to take these weapons off our streets.

“We know a proper ban on zombie knives and similar weapons is needed, but the Conservatives delayed action whilst arguing amongst themselves.

“My new Bill would outlaw large hunting knives for good. If the Conservatives won’t act to keep our communities safe, Labour will.”

Helen Hayes used a Ten Minute Rule Bill to place her demand before MPs. 

The ten-minute rule allows a backbench MP to make the case for a new Bill in a speech lasting up to 10 minutes. An opposing speech may also be made before MPs decide whether or not the Bill should be introduced. If the MP is successful, the Bill is taken to have started its journey through Parliament.