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‘Zombie knives’ now banned in England and Wales

Statutory changes in England and Wales came into force on 18 August 2016 imposing a ban on the sale of so-called ‘zombie knives’.

As of 18 August 2016 it will be an offence to sell, manufacture, rent or import ‘zombie knives’ under section 141 Criminal Justice Act 1988. An offence punishable with up to 4 years imprisonment.

Under section 141(2) Criminal Justice Act 1988 the secretary of state may define any weapon as an offensive weapon for the purposes of this section. A full schedule of which weapons are prohibited under this section can be found here. This list now includes ‘zombie knives’ at paragraph (1)(s) Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988, which defines weapons known as a ‘zombie knife’, ‘zombie killer knife’, ‘zombie slayer knife’ as “a blade with – (i) a cutting edge; (ii) a serrated edge; and (iii) images or words (whether on the blade or handle) that suggest that it is to be used for the purpose of violence.”1

The ban follows a 17-year-old’s conviction for manslaughter having fatally stabbed an 18-year-old on 10 June 2015 (see press coverage here). The changes have been introduced as a result of fears that there has been an increase in gang-related offences using ornate and dangerous weapons being sold as collector’s items and readily available to young people.

In fact, there has been a decrease in knife crime offences over the past five years; however, the figures in 2015/16 show that there was a 10% increase in the previous 12 months.

There are fears that the ban will push zombie knives to become status symbols within gangs in the UK. The ban is intended to limit the availability of these dangerous weapons circulating and available to be purchased by children and young people

By Donnchadh Greene (YJLC Legal Researcher)

  1. The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Amendment Order 2016 SI No 803  (back)