Idris Elba and Keir Starmer meet families of knife crime victims

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and actor Idris Elba spoke to the families of knife crime victims, as Sir Keir pledged to ban the online sale of zombie knives “straight away” if he becomes prime minister.

Labour has announced a five-step plan to tackle the issue, including guaranteed sanctions for young people carrying knives, and Sir Keir has pledged to chair an annual summit to track progress towards his goal of halving knife crime within a decade.

Pastor Lorraine Jones told Sir Keir, and actor and anti-knife crime campaigner Elba, at a meeting in Hammersmith, west London, that she saw her son, Dwayne Simpson, killed with “one jab wound” that “went straight through his heart”.

She said she had continued to live in Brixton, south London, since her son was killed ten years ago, because it is “like a battlefield I can’t retreat from”.

She said: “We want to be around the table with you, because we do have the answers right now. We’ve got patrols, Idris, volunteers that are patrolling before school and after school, because we haven’t got enough police officers.

“We haven’t got enough people in the community, we are desperate.

“And the most brutal thing is we’re saying it’s becoming the norm.

“We don’t want it to become the norm.

“It’s not normal for us to be burying our children, or five-year-olds seeing dead bodies and shrines in our neighbourhood.”

Pooja Kanda, whose son Ronan was stabbed to death in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, in 2022, as he walked home from a friend’s house, said that if a ban on zombie knives had been introduced after Dwayne’s death, it could have saved her son.

Idris Elba and Sir Keir Starmer walking together in front of a staircase
Idris Elba and Sir Keir Starmer arrive for a meeting with families in Hammersmith, west London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“If there was a ban two years ago my son would be living,” Ms Kanda said.

Elba said young people had suggested solutions in his conversations with them.

He said: “I’ve had conversations which are difficult, like ‘Idris, you’re telling people to put away our knives, but what am I going to hold?’.

“And I feel like I don’t know what to say to them, because they’re literally holding these out of fear. But they have solutions.”

Some say tougher sentences would be a deterrent, while others say there are too many loopholes when it comes to obtaining knives, he added.

“They know all the loopholes, so let’s just use your creative minds and go, OK, let’s find ways to help. You know, use your creative minds to help us, help this whole-society issue.”

Elba said in an Instagram video later that it was a “very important” meeting families of victims and campaign organisations to discuss “what we need to do as a country to fight this”.

He said it was a non-political issue.

Sir Keir said it was “difficult to hear” stories from the knife crime campaigners.

He added: “And it should be difficult to hear, and it’s very important that it is heard from beginning to end.”