Keeping weapons such as zombie knives at home could lead to jail under new law

People who keep weapons such as zombie knives and knuckledusters in their homes could be jailed under a new law.

It was already illegal to possess a knife or offensive weapon in public, but the Offensive Weapons Act – which became law on Wednesday, July 14 – makes it unlawful to possess certain rapid firing rifles, specific types of knives and other offensive weapons in private.

The list includes zombie knives, cyclone knives, knuckledusters, death star knives, flick knives, gravity knives, batons, disguised knives, push daggers and other offensive weapons.

Anyone unlawfully possessing a firearm covered by the ban will face up to 10 years in prison, and anyone who owns another weapon covered could face up to six months behind bars and a fine.

Temp Chief Insp Dave Oldfield, of Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, said: "We are fortunate that knife crime is low in Lancashire, at around 1%. Even so, it remains a top priority and we are serious about tackling knife and violent crime together with partner agencies.

"The change in legislation is welcome and will help officers to take dangerous weapons off the streets and make it more difficult for people to obtain knives and other bladed articles in the first place.

"Turning our focus to prevention, there is a lot of multi-agency early intervention work being done across the county to support communities and young people and encourage the young into meaningful activities, education, and employment. This work is vital in steering young people away from crime."

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63 knives - including a machete and a samurai sword - were recovered from a knife bin in Burnley. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

From December 2020 until March 2021, the Government collected 14,965 knives and offensive weapons surrendered by owners as part of a scheme allowing them to claim compensation in the exchange.

More than 32,000 items of ancillary equipment were handed over, along with 1,133 "rapid fire" firearms, with the Home Office processing 829 compensation claims.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has warned that anyone found with the weapons will “face the full force of the law”.

She said: "Lives have been lost through serious violence, and this ban will help save lives by getting more knives and other weapons off the streets and out of the hands of violent criminals.

The Knife Angel sculpture will be in display in Lancashire later this year.

"The human suffering and hurt caused by the tragic loss of life through violent crime is unacceptable, which is why the Government will stop at nothing to give the police the powers needed to stop violent crime and protect the public.

"From today, anyone possessing one of these deadly weapons unlawfully will face the full force of the law."

Another legal amendment, the Antique Firearms Regulations 2021, has also provided the first legal definition of an 'antique firearm' to prevent criminals gaining weapons for illegal uses.

This means owners of firearms which are no longer classed as antiques have until September 22 this year to apply to police for a firearms certificate which will allow them to own the weapons legally, or surrender them.

Andrew Snowden, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, added: "Tackling knife crime and violent crime generally is extremely important and saves lives.

"By making these dangerous weapons harder to obtain and easier for officers to remove from our communities, we will be able to keep more people safe."

A huge sculpture designed to raise awareness of knife crime is coming to Lancashire later this year.

The Knife Angel, a statue made from 100,000 seized knives, will be on display in the county throughout November 2021.

The sculpture, created by the British Ironworks Centre to highlight the negative effects of violent behaviour, will be hosted outside Blackburn Cathedral with a schedule of activity to combat knife crime set to take place from November 4-29.

If you have any information about knife crime in Lancashire, contact the police on 101 or make a report anonymously through independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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