What is a zombie knife? Ban on ‘menacing’ weapons introduced

A zombie knife found in Battersea  (Wandsworth MPS)
A zombie knife found in Battersea (Wandsworth MPS)

The Home Office has announced new measures in an attempt to ban the sale and use of zombie blades and machetes in the UK. Police are set to receive more power to seize and destroy “menacing” weapons as part of the crackdown on bladed weapons.

A maximum two-year prison sentence could be handed down to anyone found in possession. Those manufacturing and selling zombie knives could also face prison time.

According to the Home Office, some machetes and other knives can have legitimate uses in the outdoor and agricultural industries, but criminals are purchasing, selling, and employing the larger blades as weapons to scare and seriously injure victims.

The new ban aims to close the loophole that facilitates more zombie blades being sold online.

So what exactly is a zombie knife and what do the new rules mean?

What is a zombie knife?

A zombie blade taken from a Hackney estate by police (Waltham Forest Police / PC Ware)
A zombie blade taken from a Hackney estate by police (Waltham Forest Police / PC Ware)

A zombie knife is a bladed weapon that has been increasingly linked to violent crimes and gang use. Inspired by zombie films, they often have one smooth blade and one serrated edge.

These knives can come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but they tend to feature graphics or text (whether on the blade or handle) that suggest they should be used for violence.

Past rules on zombie blades

The Government said in 2016 that work was underway to create laws to outlaw zombie knives, when Theresa May was the home secretary.

Later the same year, it made an announcement prohibiting the sale, production, and importing of zombie knives in England and Wales.

Although laws have prohibited certain zombie knives since 2016, there have been loopholes to regulation that allowed sales to continue. Some retailers dodged the restrictions by removing threatening words from the weapon.

This implied that, even if they think the weapons were used to commit a crime, police couldn’t seize them if they are discovered in someone's home.

What does the new rule mean?

A new definition has been outlined that states a zombie-style knife is “any bladed weapon over eight inches in length with a plain cutting edge and sharp pointed end that also has either a serrated cutting edge, more than one hole in the blade, or multiple sharp points like spikes.”

According to Home Office plans police will now be given the authority to seize some items with blades, even if they are not illegal. This aims to stop the loophole that allows some retailers to continue selling zombie blades.

The maximum sentence for importing, producing, or providing illegal offensive weapons or selling bladed items to those under the age of 18 has been extended, from six months to two years in prison.

Speaking about the new measure, Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “Zombie-style knives and machetes serve no other purpose but to inflate criminal egos and endanger lives. There is no reason to own these types of weapons.”

He added: “That is why we are banning these knives and making sentencing more severe, so our communities can be reassured that this violent criminality will face the punishments they deserve, and lives will be saved.”