Idris Elba says zombie knife ban start date is 'far too long away' and calls for more community support

Idris Elba has said the start date for the government's zombie knife ban is "far too long away" and called for additional support for community groups tackling knife crime.

Two weeks ago, the actor launched a campaign focused on youth violence and began lobbying for so-called zombie knives and machetes to banned immediately.

The ban is now set to happen - but the law won't come into effect until September.

The weapons were technically banned in 2016, but a loophole has seen them remain on the streets.

Home Secretary James Cleverly today announced the loophole will be "closed" and new legislation will make it illegal to possess, sell, manufacture or transport the knives.

Addressing the announcement, Elba told Sky News: "The truth is, as much as it doesn't have all the things we hoped for, [the legislation] definitely is a step in the right direction."

"The ban on zombie knives needs to have [an] immediate effect, September is far too long away," he added.

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It comes just one day after Mr Cleverly met with Elba and campaigners, including the dad of Ben Kinsella - who was stabbed to death aged 16 in 2008.

Elba said: "What we took into the room was suggestions, what we've learnt from the campaign and what we feel could be the next steps."

He said Mr Cleverly explained "the mechanisms of parliament" and why legislation "doesn't move as quickly as we think".

'Where youth services are cut, there's a rise in crime'

He also emphasised the new legislation alone isn't enough to stop knife crime.

Recalling what was discussed in yesterday's meeting, he said: "We really highlighted the fact [that] where youth services have been cut, there's a rise in crime.

"We did highlight that young people don't feel safe. Some people are carrying knives because they [feel] unsafe, not necessarily because they're criminally minded. They feel this is the only protection they have in their neighbourhood, and that's a tragedy."

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'Tech companies making money off sales of knives'

They also discussed policing methods and "the suggestion that stop and search has antagonised the issue in certain communities", Elba added.

The actor is calling for the government to extend its efforts to tackle knife crime by taking a "360 approach".

"We need to talk to the tech companies who are finding ways to make money off the sales of these knives," he said. "We need to talk to the manufacturers and ban the supply chain.

"I want youth services to be reinstated and reinvigorated, I want the charities that are doing all of this work for young people to be funded."

Watch the full interview on The UK Tonight With Sarah-Jane Mee at 8pm on Sky News.