Number of knives seized by Border Force more than doubles

The number of knives seized by Border Force has more than doubled in a year, official figures show.

Officers took possession of 7,668 bladed items in the year to September – compared with 3,800 in the previous 12 months.

Border Force also registered a jump in the number of other “offensive weapons” it seized, rising by 61% from 4,056 to 6,534.

The combined haul of 14,202 was almost double the 7,856 knives and weapons confiscated by the agency in the year before.

The figures cover seizures made at all points of entry to the UK.

Detailed breakdowns are not published, but the Home Office said the majority of knives and offensive weapons are seized in postal, fast parcel and freight modes.

Government guidance states that it is an offence to import certain weapons into the UK.

Items subject to the restrictions include butterfly, zombie and “stealth” knives, samurai swords with curved blades over 50cm in length, knuckledusters and batons.

Some organisations are allowed to import and hold restricted items for specified purposes, such as police forces importing batons and truncheons.

Allowances are also made for theatrical performances, films and TV productions.

A knife
A knife

Press Association analysis of Border Force “transparency data” published in November also found that the number of “lethal” firearms seized more than halved year-on-year from 1,285 to 594.

But the quantity of “non-lethal” firearms seized increased by a third to 2,418 in the year to September, meaning the combined total was broadly stable at just over 3,000.

Figures on the number of seizures, as opposed to the volume of items seized, showed year-on-year rises for firearms, from 1,338 to 1,930, and knives/offensive weapons, from 1,563 to 2,549.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Tackling the illegal smuggling of offensive weapons is a priority for Border Force.

“Last year (October 2017 – September 2018), officers prevented more than 14,000 knives and other offensive weapons and over 3,000 firearms reaching the streets of the UK.

“We work closely with intelligence colleagues, as well as other law enforcement agencies, to ensure that frontline work is focused on the areas of highest risk and emerging trends are quickly identified.

“Where possible offences are identified, we will not hesitate to pass on information to assist police forces or the National Crime Agency.

“We also run regular intensification exercises at the border as well as awareness raising campaigns to inform holidaymakers returning from locations where knives and batons are sold without restriction that they cannot be imported into the UK.”

The findings come amid intense concern over serious violence, and knife crime in particular.

London has been particularly badly hit by bloodshed, while national figures show forces in England and Wales have registered a jump in recorded homicides and offences involving a knife or sharp instrument.

Ministers have announced a number of measures designed to combat the rise in violent crime.

A key plank of the crackdown is the Offensive Weapons Bill, which includes a proposed ban on delivering potentially dangerous bladed items to a buyer’s home following warnings that age-verification checks can be sidestepped online.