Idris Elba launches campaign aimed at 'disrupting' knife crime in UK

The Luther and The Wire actor is calling on the immediate ban of machetes and so-called zombie blades.

By ITV News Producer Mark Mehta and ITV News Correspondent Chloe Keedy

Idris Elba has urged the government to "disrupt the distribution line of knives" after launching a campaign petitioning the immediate ban of machetes and so-called zombie blades.

The Luther and The Wire actor made the comments to ITV News after he took part in a demonstration outside Parliament, in which bundles of clothes were laid out to represent someone who has died through knife crime in the UK.

He said the symbolism of the protest "right under the noses of Parliament" should jog the focus of politicians of "what can we do?"

As part of his latest campaign, titled 'Don't Stop Your Future', Elba is also calling for more funding for youth services, as well as releasing a song to help raise awareness of knife crime.

"When you're a teenager, your mind's exploding and over the last four years our whole world has been exploding, so no wonder some young people are feeling unstable," Elba said.

"Especially in their communities, their youth centre's gone, their youth leaders aren't being supported.

"Their schools don't know how to actually handle this situation."

On the same day that children returned to school after the Christmas break, Elba also reacted to the death of 16-year-old Harry Pitman, who was stabbed to death on New Year's Eve in north London.

He said: "It's heartbreaking because while the rest of our society was having a great time, there was someone who had to knock on the door and say to a mother of a child, 'listen, that child won't be coming home today'.

"And we pay for that - the whole country pays for that. And that mother and that family will live with it forever.

"Let's disrupt the distribution line of knives, let's put pressure on those who advertise it, let's put pressure on those who deliver them [and] let's put pressure on people who manufacture and make profit from this." 

Elba's campaign comes in the wake of last August's Home Office announcement that tougher measures on machetes and zombie-style knives would be introduced. However, progress through Parliament has been slow.

Idris Elba (second left) during the launch of his Don't Stop Your Future campaign in Parliament Square. Credit: ITV News

Under the proposals, machetes and knives designed to look intimidating and threatening would be made illegal, while the maximum penalty for the importation, manufacturing, possession and sale of these weapons would be increased to two years.

In response to Elba's campaign, Downing Street said "there is more to do" on tackling knife crime.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's official spokesman told reporters: "It's important the public understand that knife crime is down 7%, hospital admissions for stabbings are down by nearly a quarter.

"It's welcome that Idris Elba and others continue to shine a light on this important issue.

"We are using the Criminal Justice Bill and other means to give police more powers to act in this space including seizing dangerous weapons."

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