New laws proposed for knife crime

14 October 2017

The release of the Home Office Consultation (link below) outlines a welcome crackdown for online knife sales and new measures to tackle those who carry and use acid to attack people. Before we get too excited, it is worth remembering that we are only at the consultation stage, and there are a few more hurdles to get over before we see these measures passed into law. We look forward to submitting our contribution to the consultation over the next few week.

But having robust laws in place is only part of the solution. In 2015 the Government introduced ‘two strikes and you’re out’ for knife possession leading to a minimum six-month sentence. In this consultation document they are proposing the same two strike rule for carrying a corrosive liquid. Will these tough new laws act as a deterrent? Figures released by the Ministry of Justice this year show that 40 per cent of people with at least one previous conviction for knife possession escaped prison. From these figures we can conclude that the two strike rule hasn't been properly applied to knife crime cases, so can we have confidence that it will be applied to those who carry acid?

Courts dealt with over 20,000 knife possession cases last year, which is the highest since 2011. England and Wales have some of the strictest laws in relation to knife crime in the world, but when you look at sentencing there is inconsistency in how they are applied. Granted, the average sentence for knife possession is now between seven and eight months, which is three months longer than the average in 2008. But less than half adults convicted of a knife crime offence are given an immediate custodial sentence. Surely robust laws are most effective when they are matched by tough sentancing.