Idris Elba calls for tougher action on knife crime after a spate of teen killings in Britain

Elba joined protesters from the “Don’t Stop Your Future” campaign outside Parliament, posing with items denoting people killed in England by knives.

LONDON (AP) — Actor Idris Elba on Monday urged the British government to ban machetes and serrated “zombie” knives to help stop young people falling victim to knife crime.

The London-born star of “The Wire” and “Luther” joined protesters from the “Don’t Stop Your Future” campaign outside Parliament, posing with clothes and shoes representing people killed by knives.

British actor Idris Elba stands in Parliament Square with clothing representing the human cost of UK knife crime in London as he calls on the government to take immediate action to prevent serious youth violence. (Photo: Frank Augstein/AP)

In the U.K, which has strict gun-control laws, about four in 10 homicides involve a knife or sharp instrument. There is particular concern about knife crime involving young people in Britain’s cities. In London, 21 teenagers were killed in 2023, 18 of whom were stabbed to death.

“I can’t stay silent as more young lives are lost to these brutal and heartless crimes,” Elba said. “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.”

The government announced a ban on machetes and knives that are designed to look threatening in August 2023, but the law has yet to be approved by Parliament.

Elba also said technology companies should be held accountable for knife imagery on mobile phones.

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“I can pick up a phone right now, type in knives and I’ll get inundated with adverts for them,” he said. “We should find a way to deter tech companies, advertising, to put that away.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman, Max Blain, said knife crime and hospital admissions for stabbings had both fallen compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019-2020.

“But, still, we know knife crime devastates lives,” he said. “We do want to do more. It’s welcome that Idris Elba and others continue to shine a light on this important issue.”

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