Zombie knife sellers to face prison after 'horrific' weapons are banned
Sellers of so-called zombie knives will face jail from this week as a ban on the "horrific" weapons comes into force.
Ministers in England and Wales have launched a crackdown on the blades, which can be up to two foot-long with a serrated edge and carry images or words that glamorise violence.
The new law won't apply in Northern Ireland - but it is understood that legislation is also expected to be introduced by Stormont.
Inspired by horror films and often advertised as collectors' items, they are available on the internet for as little as £10.
An amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 prohibiting the sale, manufacture, rental or importation of zombie knives will take effect on Thursday.
Those caught making or selling the items will face up to four years in prison.
Last month, Justice Minister Claire Sugden said was considering tougher knife crime sentences after the number of murders involving stabbings doubled within a year.
Ms Sugden told the Assembly that during the past year there had been eight killings that involved knives or sharp instruments. There were just three the previous year.
The minister said that while current knife crime penalties were stringent, she would think about making them even tougher in a bid to reverse the rise.
Safeguarding minister Sarah Newton said today: "This Government will act wherever necessary to cut crime and keep our communities safe.
"Zombie killer knives glamorise violence and cause devastating damage - they have no place whatsoever in our society."
Alf Hitchcock, lead on knife crime at the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "Zombie knives are absolutely horrific weapons.
"Forces are determined to reduce the harm caused by these and all other dangerous weapons. There is no place for knife crime within society and this ban is further commitment to keeping communities safe."
Morris Bright, of the Local Government Association, said: "Zombie knives have only one purpose - to threaten, injure or kill someone - and this ban, which the LGA has called for, will help reduce the number of lethal blades in society and stop online retailers unwittingly fuelling criminal activity which can lead to tragedy.
"An industry-backed code of practice on the naming, promotion and packaging of all knives also needs to be created - something similar to that of the alcoholic drinks industry - which would promote their responsible sale."