The Government is to bring in new laws to tackle the growing problem of knife crime.

Gardaí are to be given greater search powers when looking for knives, and prison sentences for carrying knives are to be increased from the current maximum of 12 months to five years.

Samurai Swords are also to be banned.

The new measures are to be introduced in this Dáil Session in the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, currently being drawn up to legislate for handgun ownership in Ireland.

The Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner will this afternoon launch an awareness campaign highlighting the increase in and dangers of knife crime.

More than 50 people have been stabbed to death over the past two years and the number of knives seized and people caught with them has increased by more than a third.

Gardaí have also launched a website and an awareness campaign highlighting the dangers particularly to young people of carrying knives.