Idris Elba: I can’t stay silent on youth knife crime

Idris Elba: I Can’t Stay Silent On Youth Knife Crime
Idris Elba, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Harry Stedman, PA

Actor and musician Idris Elba has launched a campaign calling for the immediate banning of machetes and so-called zombie knives.

The Luther star is also lobbying for more funding in youth services and releasing a song in an effort to tackle serious youth violence across the UK.


Elba will launch the campaign called Don’t Stop Your Future with an installation in Parliament Square, London, on Monday.



In August 2023, the UK Home Office announced tougher measures on machetes and zombie-style knives would be introduced.

Machetes and knives designed to look intimidating and threatening would be made illegal, while the maximum penalty for the importation, manufacturing, possession and sale of these weapons would be increased to two years.

But progress on passing the new legislation through Parliament has been slow and several high-profile incidents have occurred since, including the killing of schoolgirl Elianne Andam.

The 15-year-old was stabbed to death on her way to school in Croydon, south London, in September with what was believed to be a large zombie knife. A 17-year-old boy has been charged with her murder.


Elianne Andam
Elianne Andam was killed on her way to school in Croydon in September (Met Police/PA)

Speaking about the campaign, Elba said: “I can’t stay silent as more young lives are lost to these brutal and heartless crimes.

“As school returns, too many young people will not be joining their classmates and too many grieving families have lost a young person they love in recent years.


“Young people are our future, their potential deserves to be met, not taken away by violence.

“Parliament has repeatedly not given this issue the focus it deserves, and our political leaders need to prioritise it now. As well as an immediate ban on zombie knives and machetes, we need to give young people more of a reason not to carry a weapon in the first place. That means investing in the services that address the root causes of violent crime.”

The campaign will fill Parliament Square with neatly folded outfits, with each bundle representing someone who has died through knife crime on UK streets.

The display intends to be a respectful tribute to the lives lost, while also shining a spotlight on the scale of the issue.


A police officer holds two examples of zombie knives
A police officer holds two examples of zombie knives (PA)

Elba is also releasing a song called Knives Down, which aims to give a voice to those most impacted by knife crime and to use the power of music to raise awareness.

Don’t Stop Your Future has produced a series of billboards highlighting the risk across the country, including in London, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

Alongside the immediate ban and focus on youth services, Elba is calling for the Government to convene a coalition to end knife crime: a cross-party, cross-governmental working group that brings together stakeholders who have a role to play in tackling knife crime.

Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said: “Idris’s Don’t Stop Your Future campaign is a vital and much needed intervention to shine a spotlight on serious youth violence, which has been neglected for too long.

“It’s horrifying that hardly a day goes by without the tragic news of someone being hurt, maimed, or even killed with a machete or zombie knife.”

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