Knives ‘cleverly disguised’ within combs were being advertised on the popular shopping website Etsy, with the vendor boasting to customers that ‘no one will know you are carrying a knife unless you tell them you are’.
E-commerce website Etsy offers handmade, vintage and personalised items for sale from a number of independent users including photographers, artists and jewelers.
Texas-based seller ‘Vanity Voxx’ advertised deadly blades concealed within inconspicuous combs in a variety of colours, ranging from blue to hot pink.
The description for the knife said: ‘The element of surprise is exactly what you need to be in advantage in any encounter.
‘Cleverly disguised as a comb, this sleek 3.5-inch knife might be the perfect solution for you when you’re on the go.
‘The narrow steel blade is concealed inside a 6.5-inch comb, and no one will know you are carrying a knife unless you tell them you are.
‘Because it is small enough to slip into your purse or jacket pocket, you can bring it virtually anywhere undetected.
‘This comb knife is versatile enough to be used as a seatbelt cutter during an emergency.
‘Featuring keen edge and an ergonomically shaped handle, as well as an actual comb on the end, this spear-point knife is sharp on both sides.
‘The comb end snaps into place to keep it safe while it’s not in use, but it does come off with a sure tug.
‘It’s an economical and stealthy alternative to a traditional fixed blade knife.
‘Stash a secret knife disguised as an ordinary comb in your handbag for an extra measure of protection.’
Shipping to the UK was available for £10.63.
Patrick Green, CEO of the anti-knife campaign group Ben Kinsella Trust, said: ‘It’s shameful that these knives are being offered for sale.
‘We think in terms of the vendors’ responsibility they are demonstrating no sense of social responsibility here.
‘They are just clearly chasing profit.
‘There should be some sort of mechanism filtering some of the content.’
Ben Kinsella was aged 16 when he was stabbed to death on June 29, 2008, in Islington, north London.
After finishing his GCSEs he went to a local bar to celebrate, and on his way home he was stabbed to death.
His family established Ben Kinsella Trust and campaign to raise awareness of the effects of knife crime.
When Mr Green was asked if the fact that the knives were being manufactured in Texas changed his view he responded: ‘If you apply that logic then there is no reason why you can’t buy an automatic rifle by mail order from the US as well.
‘Frankly I think it is lazy – them not taking greater responsibility for the products that they are placing on the website.
‘In terms of how these companies build websites they must be able to put in something.’
Etsy took down the items in question when contacted for comment.
A spokesperson said: ‘Etsy takes the safety of our community seriously.
‘We prohibit all knives that are weapons, including knives that are disguised as something else.
‘We’ve removed the items that violated this policy.’
The company does not allow ‘knives disguised as something else’ to be sold on its site.