iolence at the Notting Hill Carnival shows the need for police and the courts to be given tougher powers to tackle so-called “zombie knives” and machetes, Rishi Sunak has said.
Eight people were stabbed at the event in west London on Monday and Mr Sunak said it was a “good illustration” of the need to act on knife crime.
There were 275 arrests across the two days of the carnival, with 165 arrests on Monday for a range of offences including possession of offensive weapons, assaults on police officers, possession of drugs and sexual offences.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said he was worried about the use of weapons at the Notting Hill Carnival but stressed that the majority of people who attended had had a “fantastic time”.
The Government has announced plans to ban more zombie knives – which have fearsome-looking long blades – and machetes with no practical use, with police given more powers to seize and destroy them.
The maximum sentence for the importation, manufacturing, possession and sale of these newly proscribed weapons will be two years, the Home Office said.
A new offence will also be introduced for possessing bladed articles “with the intention to endanger life or cause fear of violence”.
The Government said the measures, first proposed in April, would be legislated “when Parliament allows” following a public consultation.
The Notting Hill Carnival was marred by violence on Monday, with images and footage of people brandishing weapons posted on social media.
Speaking to reporters at Kilburn police station in north-west London, Mr Sunak said: “I’m grateful to the police for all their efforts to ensure the safety of the carnival and it’s a good illustration of why we need to take action.
“That’s why we consulted on these measures earlier in the year. That’s why we’ve spoken to the police to hear first-hand from them what do they need to keep reducing knife crime, and today’s powers will help them do that.
About 60% of our murders in London are knife enabled, and probably two-thirds of those are zombie knives and machetes. These are ghastly weapons doing awful damage on the streets of London
“That will build on the progress we’ve made. Knife crime is already down since pre-pandemic levels but every life lost to knife crime is a tragedy.”
The Prime Minister inspected some of the weapons together with the commissioner during his visit in Kilburn.
The Scotland Yard chief said: “About 60% of our murders in London are knife enabled, and probably two-thirds of those are zombie knives and machetes.
“These are ghastly weapons doing awful damage on the streets of London.”
Susan Hall, the Conservative candidate for 2024’s London mayoral election, has called for the Notting Hill Carnival to be moved from its traditional home on the streets of west London to an area where it could be better policed.
But Sir Mark said that was not a decision for him, adding: “We’re not the organisers of the carnival. It’s an amazing community event with over a million people attending and it’s got such a fantastic heritage.
“We will be reviewing what’s gone on with the organisers and looking at what more can be done to improve safety, and what more can be done to help keep away the small number of very dangerous people who turn up there.
“But you’ve got a million people there turning up and having a fantastic time.
This is the sixth time in seven years that the Conservatives have promised to outlaw zombie knives. Time and again the Tories have been hopelessly weak and slow to tackle this serious and dangerous crime
“We’ve got to be careful how we refer to it. But I am worried about the weapons and the incidents we saw.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Tories had been slow to tackle the issue of zombie knives.
“This is the sixth time in seven years that the Conservatives have promised to outlaw zombie knives,” she said.
“Time and again the Tories have been hopelessly weak and slow to tackle this serious and dangerous crime.”