UK

Home deliveries to be banned for online knife sales

Home Secretary Amber Rudd being shown a collection of knives by Superintendent Sean Yates that have been involved in knife crime and recovered by the police in London Image copyright PA
Image caption The home secretary said she wants to stop young people from buying knives online

Online shoppers buying knives could be forced to collect them in person in England and Wales, if plans to stop children purchasing blades go ahead.

It is already illegal to sell knives to under-18s, but young people have been able to buy them online, according to the home secretary.

New measures would prohibit blades from being delivered to a private property.

Instead, customers would have to collect it from a physical shop, where retailers would check their identity.

Under current law, it is illegal to sell a blade of more than three inches (7.62cm) to anyone under 18 - but reports have warned online age verification checks can be sidestepped. In Scotland, 16 to 18-year-olds are allowed to buy cutlery and kitchen knives.

The courts dealt with more than 19,000 knife possession cases in England and Wales last year - the highest number since 2011.

"At the moment you have to do it by the click of a button.

"What we are proposing is that if you want to buy a knife online it has to be collected from a place where you have to show your ID," Home Secretary Amber Rudd explained.

"We have evidence that young people have been able to buy knives without verifying their ID and I want to stop that."

Calls to review online sales intensified after the fatal stabbing of Aberdeen schoolboy Bailey Gwynne in 2015.

The teenage killer, who was jailed for nine years, had bought the knife online.

An inquiry that followed the case recommended "further legislative controls on the purchase of weapons online".

Ms Rudd said almost three-quarters of online retailers which should carry out age verification checks were not doing so.

One under-18 was able to get a knife by having it delivered to their mother's shed, the home secretary added.

Image copyright PA

Ministers also want to give police in England and Wales powers to seize banned knives.

By banning the possession of outlawed weapons - such as "zombie knives" and knuckledusters - on private property, officers would be able to seize them and make arrests.

Ms Rudd said this would help begin to "break that cycle of danger and violence that's so blighting communities".

Those who keep weapons for legitimate purposes, such as cultural items or antiques, would not be penalised.

The proposals will be considered as part of a consultation to be launched later this year.

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