WILTSHIRE'S Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, has backed new laws to ban the sale of zombie-style knives and increase the maximum sentence for the possession of banned weapons.

Under the current laws, zombie knives are defined as being "a blade with a cutting or serrated edge with images or words on the blade or handle that suggest that it is to be used for the purposes of violence."

Under the new laws, which were introduced in Parliament on Thursday, January 25 and will come into force in September, the ban is extended to include weapons which don’t have those images or words. The new definition also means some machetes will also be included in the restricted category.

The new legislation also includes measures to raise the maximum sentence for the possession of banned weapons from six months to two years, and also gives the police the power to seize and destroy knives found in homes, if there are reasonable grounds to suspect they will be used for serious crime.

Mr Wilkinson said: "There is absolutely no practical use for these weapons whatsoever and I welcome the government taking positive steps to close this loophole.

"We need to make sure the laws allow our officers and the courts to effectively deal with anyone who uses a knife to intimidate or cause harm.

“Whilst statistically Wiltshire may have some of the lowest levels of knife crime in the country, we’ve seen all too often how carrying a knife has led to serious injury and in the most tragic cases, loss of life.

"The focus of my office will be to continue to educate people around the dangers of carrying any bladed weapon and the risks they face if they’re caught by the police."

Since last October, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has funded a series of “Blunt Truth” workshops in schools across Wiltshire and Swindon, where NHS professionals and police officers talk to Year Nine pupils about possible consequences of carrying a knife and what to do if a friend or family member is stabbed. 

The PCC said: "Whilst the majority of young people won't be involved directly in knife crime, these sessions make them aware of the dangers of carrying knives and gives them tools to make the right decision if they ever find themselves in difficult position of having to report someone they know who's carrying a knife.

"Hearing directly from an A&E specialist who deals with young people who are the victims of stabbings makes a strong impact and it shows why funding workshops like these and working closely with our partners in the NHS is worthwhile."

In Swindon, the OPCC recently joined a Youth Safety Summit, where council leaders, health and criminal justice professionals and members of the OPCC’s Youth Commission discussed a number of key issues facing young people, including knife crime.