Plans to ban more “zombie-style” knives and machetes and proposals to give police more powers to seize and destroy them have been welcomed by campaigners and key figures in the North East. 

The maximum sentence for the importation, manufacturing, possession and sale of these weapons will be two years, the Home Office said.

A new offence will also be introduced for possessing bladed articles “with the intention to endanger life or cause fear of violence”.

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The Government said the measures, first proposed in April, will be legislated “when Parliament allows” following a public consultation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added the crackdown on zombie-style knives, with new powers for police, would make a “big difference” for officers.

This new announcement comes just days after The Northern Echo's North East Knife Crime Taskforce backed a parliamentary petition to have the issue taught in schools as part of the National Curriculum.

The Northern Echo: Rishi SunakRishi Sunak (Image: PA MEDIA)

The North East Knife Crime Taskforce, a public forum to share ideas and resources to enable groups and organisations to work together to combat knife crime, is urging people to sign the petition as part of the campaign.

The taskforce was formed following a spate of deaths of young people aged 14 to 18, including Connor Brown, Jack Woodley, Tomasz Oleszak and Gordon Gault in recent years.

Under the new measures, the Home Office said the definition will include any bladed weapon more than eight inches long 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.

The Northern Echo: Clockwise, from top right, Gordon Gault Tomasz Oleszak, Connor Brown and Jack WoodleyClockwise, from top right, Gordon Gault Tomasz Oleszak, Connor Brown and Jack Woodley (Image: CONTRIBUTOR)

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness said: "To tackle knife crime, we really need these tougher measures brought in, so I am glad to see some movement on this. But this also needs to be part of a much wider approach."

"Through my Violence Reduction Unit, we are getting important information to young people at the earliest point."

She added: "Through education sessions in schools and community groups, as well as my new hard-hitting campaign, Knives Impact Everyone,  we are relaying the devastating impact carrying a knife can have on so many people, friends, family, emergency services and communities - we all feel it.

"For those identified for carrying a knife, we have a range of mentoring programmes, interventions and family support available.

"But, in order to prevent knives and keep delivering this vital programme of activity, we need more funding, which is why I will continue to call on the Government to provide more resources for our crucial youth services that are so very much needed."

The Northern Echo: Rishi Sunak holding a 'zombie knife' Rishi Sunak holding a 'zombie knife' (Image: PA MEDIA)

Ministers hope the changes will close a loophole that has seen some retailers continue to sell dangerous weapons without breaking the law by removing certain banned features.

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the newly prohibited weapons “should have been banned years ago”, and accused the Government of failing to properly close gaps in the current legislation.

Police will be given new powers to seize and destroy knives found on private premises if there are “reasonable grounds to believe the blade will be used in a serious crime”, said the Home Office.

Speaking today (Wednesday, August 30), Mr Sunak said: “Knife crime is appalling, it disproportionately affects young people and we should be doing everything we can to stamp it out.

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“I spent time with officers and the Met Commissioner talking about what they’re dealing with on the streets. What we’re doing today will make their jobs easier.

“We’re giving the police more powers to confiscate knives when they come across them when they’re going about their day-to-day policing business.

"We are banning particular types of knives. Having just seen them myself there’s no reason these knives should be on the streets.”

He added: “There’s no sensible reason anyone should own them or possess them. So, we’re going to ban them and make it illegal to possess them. Lastly, we’re toughening up the sentencing for people who are caught with these weapons.