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Actor Idris Elba calls for action over UK knife crime

Actor Idris Elba wants a ban on machetes and other knives
Actor Idris Elba wants a ban on machetes and other knives - Copyright AFP INDRANIL MUKHERJEE
Actor Idris Elba wants a ban on machetes and other knives - Copyright AFP INDRANIL MUKHERJEE

British actor Idris Elba on Monday launched a campaign calling for a ban on knives such as a machetes, to reduce the number of young people killed in stabbings.

“I can’t stay silent as more young lives are lost to these brutal and heartless crimes,” said Elba, who shot to fame as drugs kingpin and housing developer Stringer Bell in the TV series “The Wire”.

Piles of carefully folded clothes were laid out in line outside the UK parliament in London to represent people killed by knife crime.

“We can’t let knife crime escalate, we have to put a stop to it,” the 51-year-old Elba told reporters.

Some 250 people were killed in knife crime in England and Wales between July 2022 and June 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In London last year 21 minors — children under 18 — lost their lives in violence, including 18 who were stabbed.

The sale of knives is strictly regulated in the UK but young people are still managing to arm themselves with large “zombie” knives, where one side is serrated and the other curved.

The weapons, inspired by horror films, are typically associated with gangs and can bought cheaply on the internet.

“I’m asking simply to put a ban on machetes and zombie knives,” said Elba, a rapper, singer and DJ also known for playing Nelson Mandela and television detective John Luther.

The UK government in August promised a ban on “intimidating and threatening” Zombie-style knives and machetes “that have no practical use”, as part of moves to reduce knife crime.

But there has been no let-up in violence: in September a 15-year-old girl was stabbed to death as she made her way to school in south London.

And just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, a 16-year-old boy watching fireworks with friends was killed.

“It’s ridiculous how easy it is for young people to buy knives and hurt other people,” said Nadine Searchwell, whose 22-year-old son was killed in October while he went to buy a pizza.

“The government doesn’t pay attention because it’s not one of their own.” 

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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