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Sunday, September 15, 2019

NHS violence reduction lead calls for crackdown on knife sales

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A leading trauma surgeon has led the call for more to be done to restrict the sale of harmful ‘zombie knives’ to help prevent violent crime.

Zombie knives have cutting blades of up to 25 inches, a serrated edge and are brightly coloured, often decorated with images of violence.

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Speaking at a health conference in Manchester, Martin Griffiths, a surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust, and violence reduction director for NHS England in London, said that the drivers of violent crime are complex and deep-rooted, but that sales of knives created, designed and sold purely to glamourise and cause harm must be further tackled.

Despite a law coming into effect in 2016 that prohibited the sale, import and manufacture of zombie knives across England and Wales, reports of the weapons being available and used in crimes have persisted.

At the NHS Expo 2019 conference, Mr Griffiths said: “Zombie knives have no use other than to cause serious harm.

“These deadly weapons have no place in London, no place in society, and should not be on sale either online or on our high streets.

“Anyone selling deadly zombie knives is complicit in the serious injury and death that can result.

“The causes of violent crime are complex and tied up in issues like employment, income and background.

“The solution isn’t quick, but violence is preventable, which is why as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to improve the country’s health, doctors and other NHS staff are joining communities across the capital from business to schools, families and the criminal justice system to encourage everyone in London to get involved in reducing violent crime.”

In response to increasing concerns around the impact of knife crime, and to ramp up the health service’s efforts to support victims and families of knife crime, Martin was appointed in June this year as the first ever NHS violent crime reduction director for London.

Earlier this year, the NHS revealed that 10-19 year olds were admitted to hospital more than one thousand times last year with injuries from knives and other sharp objects, a 54% increase on the year before.

Data published in February by the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales in the year to March 2018 reached 285, the highest since records began in 1946.

In April 2019 Nottinghamshire Police and partner agencies operated a knife amnesty and 635 weapons were handed in, including ‘Zombie’ knives.

Speaking afterwards Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “I would like to thank everyone in communities across Nottinghamshire who took the chance to dispose of bladed weapons during the amnesty.

“To take 635 weapons out of circulation is a phenomenal response and really shows the strength of feeling among the public and their desire to help tackle this issue. “Some people question why we hold knife amnesties because criminals don’t engage with them. What I would say to that is just look at the weapons that have been handed in – some of these are incredibly dangerous weapons that are designed to cause harm. So every weapon handed in is one less that can fall into the hands of someone who would use it for that purpose.

“Police and partners have a range of tactics to tackle knife crime, from enforcement through the Knife Crime Team to education through Schools and Early Intervention Officers, but amnesties offer a very direct way for the public to play their own part.”

The weapons were destroyed.

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