Illegal knives disguised as belts, highlighters and lipsticks getting into UK and even school yards
ILLEGAL knives disguised as belts (pictured above), pens and credit cards are making their way into the hands of UK criminals and even school children after being bought through overseas websites.
Police have seized numbers of sophisticated weapons that have also been found concealed in combs, jewellery, keyrings, torches and lipsticks.
Graham McNulty, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) lead on knife crime said it was trying to encourage overseas websites not to deliver to the UK or remove the dangerous items from sale altogether.
Many websites, often based in the US where the items are legal, will not allow UK-based customers to buy them.
However, security measures can be bypassed by using a virtual private network (VPN) giving a computer a US IP address.
Some websites are also willing to ship to the UK regardless of British laws, meaning they have been getting here through overseas postal hubs.
Mr McNulty said: "We are aware of these illegal and prohibited concealed knives coming in from overseas.
"Border Force colleagues are very good at spotting them and have been using the facility to scan for them at postal hubs.
"Border Force will seize them when found and pass on details of where they were going.
"People will search for stuff on the internet in order to commit offences
"We now work with websites and there have been quite a few successes where they have stopped selling knives altogether.
"We have asked a lot who have changed their rules to comply with the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, so we are looking to save lives by preventing online deliveries of knives."
Stop and Prevent Adolescent Criminal Exploitation (SPACE), which raises awareness of child criminal exploitation and the menace of county lines drug dealing, this month tweeted a warning after finding Tik Tok footage of someone showing off a hidden belt buckle knife in a video promoting is use.
The group tweeted: "This is what we're up against."
A SPACE spokesman said: "They are available online with some 'out of stock' so are selling well.
"These things are coming into the UK. They may be detected on arrival but how many get through?
"We know they are in usage and police know it."
In the US they are marketed as self-defence items.
One US website promoting the knife concealed in a belt said: "This belt features a hidden knife in the buckle area that can be pulled out faster than a knife in a holster or in your pocket.
"Never again be caught knifeless when an attacker springs on you.
"Just grab the buckle and pull out the 3 1/2" stainless steel blade."
Some have even made their way into the hands of school children.
In December West Midlands Police found a blade disguised as a highlighter pen (above) while carrying out a weapons sweep at a Birmingham secondary school.
A hidden highlighter knife was earlier found by a 12-year-old girl at a secondary school in South Tyneside.
A month earlier Essex Police found a knife concealed in a bracelet after locating an online buyer in Harlow who had purchased it from an overseas website.
A joint investigation with the Border Force found it was brought into the UK through a postal hub near Heathrow Airport.
The same month a man with a knife concealed in a bracelet was found at Huntingdon train station.
In October Phillip Anderson, 41, (above) was sentenced to two years and 10 months after admitting possession with intent to supply cocaine in the Dartford area.
Officers also he had a knife disguised as a torch.
In November 2019 Montel Heath, 24, was ordered to do 80 hours unpaid community service after he admitted possessing a bladed article.
He was found with a blade disguised as a credit card by door staff while queuing to get into a club in Nottingham.
The same month police in Shropshire seized a credit card knife from a young boy after an adult raised concerns.