View from the House: eBay must crack down on knife sellers

PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 October 2018




In September, I was on the parliamentary committee scrutinising the Offensive Weapons Bill.

The bill tightens up the law on acid attacks, making changes which I called for last summer. I argued it should go further.

The bill also tightens the law on knives. I am worried about how easy it is to get hold of knives which nobody should have.

It is a crime to sell a knife to a person under 18. A parliamentary written answer told me that, in 2009, there were 232 prosecutions for under age knife sales. That effort was one reason why violent crime was falling under Labour. Last year, there were just 16 prosecutions. Not surprisingly, shopkeepers are now much less careful. Knife violence has risen fast.

Newham-based Raheel Butt is the founder of Community and Rehabilitation Solutions. He showed me how easy it is to buy weapons on online sites like eBay, including weapons which are banned in the UK. Companies selling them – which advertise on eBay’s UK site – are usually based outside the UK, so seem to think British law doesn’t apply.

In the committee, I argued it should be illegal for websites to advertise these weapons in the UK. The minister claimed it already was – though this clearly hasn’t stopped it. The law is at best ambiguous. I shall argue, when the Bill returns to the commons shortly, that the law should be amended.

To get on top of violent crime, we will have to reverse cuts in police numbers, and reintroduce youth services. But we also need to do all we can to keep weapons out of the hands of those who want to use them.

Ministers must take the opportunity provided by this Bill to act now.

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