The latest crime statistics released by the ONS reveal a shocking increase in knife crime across England and Wales. Over the past twelve months rates of knife crime have risen by 2 percent, the first increase in four years. Although this may seem relatively minor, when broken down this equates for a 13 percent increase in violent assaults and a 10 percent increase in possession related offences. The figures also revealed an increase in areas of serious and organised crime such as fraud, and computer software scams.
The rise in knife crime however is one that has grabbed the headlines as the conservative’s zero tolerance policy two strikes and your out measure comes into effect. In an attempt to tackle the 26,370 knife related offences those found in possession of a knife or blade on two occasions will now face a mandatory prison sentence. It is believed that the introduction of the policy will result in the incarceration of 1000 additional offenders year upon year, placing further strain on prisons already pushed to full capacity.
Whilst the government hope the severity of the sentence will act as a deterrent for those tempted to carry harmful weapons, it has been met with wider scepticism by the public for a number of reasons. It is estimated that the addition of 1000 inmates will cost the criminal justice system an extra £10million, in a sector which is also undergone significant financial constraints and cuts. Quite how this will be funded has not been formally addressed as prisons already face growing criticism due to poor levels of inmate safety and rising levels of violence.
There are also questions as to whether custodial sentences will push those who carry knives further into the criminal world as they come in contact with those who are serving time for more serious offences, resulting in higher reoffending rates. For those involved in gangs or anti social groups where crossing into hostile territories is a part of daily life questions have been raised as to whether this is really the most suitable method to counteract violent practices associated with gang culture.
For now all we can do is wait and see whether the Government was right to adopt their strict zero tolerance approach, something which will only be revealed when the next crime statistics are released.
Knife crime is a serious offence, one which can carry heavy custodial sentences. For further information or to speak to a solicitor who specialises in criminal defence contact Farleys’ award winning criminal law team on 0845 050 1958, or complete an online enquiry form.
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