Knife crime investigation: ITV News reporter able to buy 40-inch Samurai sword online

Knives bought online by ITV News
There were few checks before the knives were sent. Credit: ITV News

All it took was a bank card, some valid ID and just a few minutes.

Five knives, five potentially deadly weapons, were in my online shopping basket from five different England-based retailers.

A machete, a hunting knife and a 40-inch Samurai sword with a 27.5-inch straight blade were among the purchases. None of them were illegal to buy online. All the couriers asked for proof of age.

While UK law restricts the carrying of knives in public, currently, any of the knives pictured can be purchased by people above the age of 18.

The knives were bought as part of an ITV News investigation into rising youth violence and the decline in funding for youth services in England and Wales.

We invited West Yorkshire's Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe, to review what we had bought. She helps to oversee policing and knife crime prevention across the region.

"They’re staggeringly frightening," was her immediate reaction. "I don’t know why anybody would want to own any of these. I’m dismayed that you’ve been able to buy these online."

It comes after the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners called for the age at which many knives could be bought to be raised from 18 to 21.

'We don't have much bushcraft in Kirklees'

Meanwhile in August, the Home Office announced plans to ban so-called zombie-style knives and machetes "that are designed to look intimidating and threatening" and "that have no practical use" - measures the items we bought don't cover.

The Government also banned other zombie knives in 2016 and "cyclone" knives in 2019.

"Why should anyone have these knives? Why should we be having legalisation to increase it to 21? We should ban these knives," Ms Lowe added.

"I think if you’ve got a filleting knife and need it for your job you should be able to prove that. We don’t have much bushcraft in Kirklees, where I live. Why do you need these knives on the streets of the uk at all? This isn’t the issue, it's part of the issue.

West Yorkshire's Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe, said the availability of knives was 'staggeringly frightening'. Credit: ITV News

"We know that local government has been decimated since 2010 by billions, here in West Yorkshire - billions and billions. We need support for vulnerable families, for families struggling, for families who are being exploited or potentially exploited."

Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Jonathan Evison also viewed the knives we bought. He said: "We have to concentrate also on education.

"The majority of knife crime, about 80%, is in buildings, and the majority of knives used are available from just about any kitchen.

"We're working with the two rugby league clubs (in Hull), also the football club, a number of boxing clubs, youth organisations, the Scouts."

Mr Evison said the Humber Violence Prevention Partnership has spent £1.1 million working with young people to combat the problem.

The Ben Kinsella Trust has found that between 2013 and 2022 incidents of knife crime in England and Wales rose by 75%.

Among the blades available to purchase online was a machete (right). Credit: ITV News

Meanwhile the YMCA's 2023 report called Generation Cut estimated that local government spending on youth services has faced a real terms cut of around £1 billion since 2010.

The Government said its National Youth Guarantee (NYG), which was set up in 2022, will give every young person access to regular clubs and activities, adventures away from home, and volunteering opportunities by 2025.A spokesperson added: "This (NYG) is backed by an investment of more than £500 million and includes a commitment to build or refurbish up to 300 youth centres, supporting 45,000 more young people every year."

Despite a specific request, the Government declined to comment on our purchase of weapons online.

In background, it said that violence reduction units had reached over 215,000 "vulnerable young people".

"Through our investment in the Youth Endowment Fund, 117,000 young people have been supported to escape violence since 2019," it said.

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