Machetes and zombie knives could be banned in England and Wales, with people selling them facing up to two years in jail, under government plans to close a legal loophole.
After complaints from police chiefs and MPs that some large, bladed weapons are excluded from current laws, the Home Office will consult the public over plans to ban their ownership and sale.
Certain blades that are “designed to look menacing” and “with the intention to threaten” are not currently prohibited but would be outlawed under proposed measures, the Home Office said.
Knife crime has increased by 9% in the past year and 34% in the past decade, to 45,000 offences.
This month a judge urged jurors to write to their MPs about the “shocking” availability of dangerous weapons online after a man was found guilty of killing an 18-year-old with a 22-inch zombie knife.
Under laws introduced in 2016, police can only confiscate and prosecute possession of zombie knives in private homes if they meet three criteria. The knives must have a cutting edge, a serrated edge and “images or words that suggest it is to be used for the purpose of violence”.
Inspired by horror films, the curved blades with serrated edges are often sold as collector’s items, but police say they are increasingly being carried by criminals.
Machetes have no such markings, while some retailers have been selling zombie knives without any writing or images on them or even packaging that would allow police to seize them.
While machetes and other similar knives can have legitimate uses in gardening and the agricultural sector, the Home Office said criminals were buying, selling and using larger bladed articles as weapons to intimidate and cause others serious harm.
The seven-week public consultation will define which machetes and large knives will be banned, inviting views to ensure proposals are targeted and balanced in order to keep our streets safe, the Home Office said.
The home secretary, Suella Braverman, said: “The thugs wielding these deadly knives aim to terrorise their victims and the public, and too often even carry out horrific or fatal attacks. They are emboldened by the cowardly idea that carrying these blades inflates their own status and respect.”