Knife criminals in Lancashire who just don't learn

More than a quarter of adult criminals caught carrying a blade in Lancashire have previously committed a knife crime

Thursday, 17th December 2020, 7:00 am

Anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust says too many offenders “simply reappear on our streets still carrying weapons”.

The figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal there were 316 convictions and cautions for knife possession in the 12 months up to September.

In 91 cases, or 29 per cent, the offender had committed at least one previous offence of carrying a knife, while in 25 cases there were three or more past offences.

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There were 316 convictions and cautions for knife possession in Lancashire in the 12 months up to September

Immediate prison sentences were given in 53 of the repeat offences while 15 were dealt with by suspended jail sentences, eight by community orders and two by a caution.

For 13 of the offences the outcome was not specified in the data.

Across England and Wales, 12,458 convictions and cautions were given to adult offenders for knife possession in the 12 months up to September.

Out of those, around a third were repeat offenders.

Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said: “I remain worried about the continuing high levels of repeat offending.

“All too often we see the criminal justice system having little or no effect on habitual knife carriers.

“Despite going before the courts and receiving a conviction, too many offenders simply reappear on our streets still carrying weapons.”

Five years ago, new legislation was introduced requiring judges to impose jail terms on adult knife offenders who had already committed a knife crime, unless it would “make it unjust to do so”.

Section 28 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, otherwise known as the “two strikes and out” system, applies to repeat adult knife offenders who have had a conviction, not a caution.

Mr Green added: “These figures ask serious questions about the effectiveness of the Government’s “two strikes policy” and whether enough is being done to prevent and rehabilitate offenders.”

In the 12 months to September, there were 17,914 sentences and cautions given to adults and children for knife offences, down 20 per cent from the same period last year.

In Lancashire the number fell 24 per cent.

The figures include possessing a knife or other offensive weapon. They exclude offences such as murder and assault.

They are also likely to have been impacted by Covid-19, with restrictions in place for half the annual period.

The Ministry of Justice states repeat knife possession offenders should expect a custodial sentence, but added sentencing remained a matter for independent judges.

Justice Minister Chris Philp said: “This Government is determined to make our streets safer and those caught carrying a knife should expect to face time behind bars.

“We are doing more to build back confidence in the justice system recruiting 20,000 extra police officers, making it easier to use stop and search and ensuring the most serious offenders spend longer in prison.”