Teenagers illegally buying knives via TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, say police

Official figures show knife crime rose by seven percent in the year to December and police are worried about illegal dealers selling weapons via social media.

Underage teenagers buying knives from illegal dealers via social media channels such as TikTok, Snapchat and Telegram remains “a really concerning picture”, one the UK's most senior police officers has said.

Commander Stephen Clayman, the national lead for policing knife crime, said knives are being sold illegally to under 18s online.

Speaking ahead of a week of police action to tackle knife crime, he told journalists: “It’s still a really concerning picture in terms of the accessibility of knives online.”

All police forces in England and Wales will ramp up action for a week this month as part of Operation Sceptre, and again in November.

Official figures show that knife crime rose by 7% in the year to December 2023.

In the year to March 2023, 82% of teenage homicide victims were killed with a knife, compared to 73% in the previous year.

Actor Idris Elba has campaigned for stricter laws around zombie knives and machetes Credit: Yui Mok/PA

The Home Office announced on Tuesday that it would give £3.5 million additional funding for research and development of new technologies which would allow knives to be detected from a distance when a suspect passes through two points.

An additional £547,863 will also be given to the Metropolitan Police to fund four more live facial recognition camera vans.

Laws around zombie knives, machetes and swords are to be tightened up from September, giving police greater powers to seize weapons found in private properties.

It will be illegal to possess, sell, manufacture or transport zombie-style knives and machetes, and the maximum penalty for the possession of these and other banned weapons will also increase from six months to two years.

A surrender and compensation scheme is due to launch in the summer.

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