Closed petition Introduce a minimum sentence for carrying a knife, equal to carrying a firearm

There should be a statutory minimum sentence for those found carrying a knife, the same as if carrying a firearm. With the reported 33% increase in knife crime since 2011 it is clear that there needs to be serious consideration for the punishment for those carrying offensive weapons.

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The cycle needs to stop and the only way positive results will become evident and we will see a reduction in young murders is if we tighten up on sentencing for those carrying a knife.
If a young person is caught with a knife and it is their first offence they potentially have no further punishment with the current policy’s around knife crime in place. Unlike those caught with a firearm. How many of those have been let off lightly for knife crimes have then gone on to re offend and use a knife?

This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website

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Government responded

This response was given on 1 October 2019

Conviction of a knife or offensive weapon offence – threatening or possession - is now more likely to result in some form of custodial sentence, and for longer than at any point in the last ten years.

We must keep people safe, and the Government believes that the courts must have the powers they need to effectively sentence offenders to prevent reoffending. Sentencing should always match the severity of the crime. We understand the devastating impact knife crime has on victims and their families, and are determined to put a stop to violent crimes that involve knives.

Parliament has provided sentencing rules to give courts the powers they need to effectively deal with the range of offences and offenders which come before them. Where someone is actually harmed by a knife or offensive weapon, there are a range of offences that the person may be charged with, such as causing grievous bodily harm. These can result in lengthy sentences up to life imprisonment. In England and Wales in fact, all murder convictions must result in a life sentence. For offenders aged 18 and over who bring a knife or another weapon to the scene of a murder with the intention of using it, courts will consider a minimum term spent in custody of at least 25 years.

Where adult offenders were cautioned or convicted of possessing a knife or offensive weapon for the first time in the year to March 2019, over half (55%) received some form of custodial sentence.

In 2015, we introduced minimum custodial sentences for repeat knife possession and offences that involve threatening with a weapon. Adults face a minimum of 6 months’ imprisonment whilst young people aged 16 or 17 face a minimum 4-month Detention and Training Order. Since the introduction of the minimum custodial term people caught carrying a knife or offensive weapon for a second time are now more likely than ever before to go to prison – in the year ending March 2019, 83% of offenders received a custodial sentence for repeat possession offences.

When sentencing, the courts consider the full circumstances of the offence and offender and must follow any relevant sentencing guidelines produced by the independent Sentencing Council. The guidelines are clear that for any offence the use of a weapon will be treated as an aggravating factor meriting an increased sentence.

It is clear tackling serious violence requires a response on several fronts. This Government is clear knife crime must be tackled and 20,000 new police officers are being recruited as part of ongoing work to tackle serious violence.

Knife Crime Prevention Orders have been introduced through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. These new laws are an additional tool police will be able to use to work with young people and adults to help steer them away from knife crime and serious violence. Breaching an order can result in up to two years in prison.

The Government has also announced a fund of £100m to tackle serious violence which is being made available this year. £63.4m of this was made available for police surge activity to forces worst affected by serious violence and the Home Office recently announced the allocation of £35m for the creation of Violence Reduction Units in 18 local areas. Violence Reduction Units bring together police, local government, health, community leaders and others to tackle violent crime and its underlying causes.

Ministry of Justice.

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