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Tackling the scourge of knife crime

The fatal stabbing of young footballer Kiyan Prince outside his London school put the issue of carrying knives firmly back in the headlines. BBC News takes a look at the numerous attempts to tackle knife crime.

For years, legislation to combat the scourge of crime involving knives has exercised politicians and presented a challenge for several governments.

Back in 1988, when the Conservatives were in charge, the Criminal Justice Act created an offence of carrying something with a blade or point in a public place without good reason with a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

That piece of legislation made an exception for folding pocket knives of less than three inches.

It also created an offence of having a knife or bladed weapon at school with a maximum sentence of up to four years in jail.

Amnesty

The Conservatives also tried to make it harder for young people to obtain knives. The Offensive Weapons Act of 1996 amended the 1988 Act to outlaw the sale of knives and other bladed items to under-16s.

The maximum penalty for breaking that law is six months in jail and/or a £5,000 fine.

Meanwhile, the Violent Crime Reduction Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, aims to up the minimum age someone can buy a knife to 18.

Other pieces of legislation include the Knives Act 1997, which creates offences relating to the marketing of knives in a manner to encourage violent behaviour, or as combat weapons.

The Act extended police powers to stop and search suspects, which are contained in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said the government would not tolerate "the carrying of bladed weapons and are doing everything we can through legislation, enforcement and community work to prevent it".

"We have banned the manufacture, sale and importation of 17 bladed, pointed and other offensive weapons, in addition to flick knives and gravity knives," she said.

She also highlighted the current knife amnesty launched on 24 May as "one of many tactics the government and police are using to tackle knife crime".

'Sentences needed'

"It is already an offence to carry a knife in public. Those found guilty face a penalty of up to two years imprisonment. Possession of an offensive weapon carries a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment. Murder would result in an automatic life sentence," she added.

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, says a mandatory prison sentence for carrying a concealed blade is required to tackle a worsening culture of knife crime.

But for the Conservatives, shadow home secretary David Davis says the government needs to back up "tough talk on tackling knife crime".

He accused ministers of being more interested in "announcing headline-grabbing initiatives than taking the action needed to protect the public".

"We believe there must be tougher sentences for people carrying knives," he argued.

"Only last Monday, in the House of Lords, we suggested an amendment to the Violent Crime Reduction Bill to raise the maximum sentence for carrying a knife from two years to five, which the government kicked into the long grass."

Challenging the culture

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, said the recent spate of "horrific knife crimes" demonstrated how serious the issue had become.

"We urgently need to challenge the culture that makes it acceptable to carry knives. The sentence for carrying a knife in a public place should be the same as that for carrying a gun," he said.

"While the current knife amnesty is welcome, we need to do more to prevent knives being sold to children in the first place."

And a few quotes for another story about this.

A five-week amnesty aimed at tackling knife crime across Britain - the first of its kind in a decade - has begun.

Until 30 June people can hand in knives at police stations in England, Scotland and Wales without fear of penalty.

But police have warned that once the amnesty is over, tough action will be taken on those found armed with knives.

However, some families of victims of knife crime have questioned the effectiveness of an amnesty, calling instead for tougher sentencing.

The initiative - which is running alongside a three-week campaign in Northern Ireland - comes amid growing concern at the level of knife crime in the wake of a series of fatal stabbings across the country.

---

Speaking in the Commons, Prime Minister Tony Blair said the amnesty was part of a range of proposals to tackle knife crime.

These included adding a range of knives to the offensive weapons list, giving teachers powers to search students and increasing the legal age at which knives can be bought from 16 to 18.

---

During the amnesty, secure bins are being placed in public reception areas of most police stations in an effort to encourage people to hand in their weapons.

Some police forces may also leave bins in churches, supermarkets, schools and youth clubs. Police are also running a campaign to teach people about the dangers of carrying weapons.

---

Life sentence

Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, questioned whether it was just a public relations exercise.

Philip Lawrence's widow Frances, however, said she hoped the amnesty would make people think again about carrying knives.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's greater value is the symbolic one in that it will focus people's minds on the issue and it could, for instance, open up the debate in families for instance, where people may have an uneasy feeling perhaps that their son is going off carrying a knife."

Here my friends is a terrifying look at a post-gun control debate and its "issues." - Brought to you by the natural progression of a so called "progressive" post-mod, anti-gun ideology.

Oh and.. wait, what was that again about getting rid of guns being the answer to, or "cure for" as I've sometimes heard it called, ending violent crime and or violence overall.....? :rolleyes:

And for some fun reading.

Favorite quote.

Knife crime could be reduced if all knives were banned and we ate our food with wooden spoons.

John, Stockport

QFT! ^

I don't think that any laws regarding knives should be changed - the police should just do more to enforce the existing laws. Call me old-fashioned (I'm 19), but more police on patrol might be a good idea. Yes, people will complain about taxes going up to pay for them, but it's better than bringing in new laws that cannot be enforced if the police are already too stretched to cope!

It's just creepy isn't it?

Innocent people are being killed by knife wielding thugs. Families are grieving. I can't blame the media for that. Innocent people need to be protected. Carrying a knife should incur a mandatory 5 year sentence. If that means that some people will be deprived of the right to carry an "innocent" pen knife then so be it. A life sentence for using a knife: if criminals think life is cheap then they won't mind giving up their own.

Chris Roberts, United Kingdom

Yay.....! :mellow:

Laws against carrying knives seek to penalise thought crimes. It is left to the police and the courts to decide if the knife owner intends to use it to commit a crime. The latest flurry of news stories on knife crime leads one to believe that someone in a position of influence is seeking more powers to control the people.

David Thomas, Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom

DING! DING! DING!

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I'll reply to your theories/views on this a little later Burb. But for now I'd just want to let you all know that this was really supposed to be more of a "where does it end" (same arguments, same people behind it, same reasons, etc) type debate, then a "OZMG!!1! TA EV!L GUNZ" or "EVERYONEZ NEEDS THE GUNS!1!!!" type debate.. But oh well.

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I think that there should be no laws agianst carrying weapons of any kind (Although you should only be able to have small calibur firearms and short bladed knives concealed).

In Texas, there is no law against carrying concealed weapons, and it has the lowest crime rate in the US-of-A. Why? Because that granny you are looking at mugging might have a .38 special, or hell, even a 45.

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I think that there should be no laws agianst carrying weapons of any kind (Although you should only be able to have small calibur firearms and short bladed knives concealed).

In Texas, there is no law against carrying concealed weapons, and it has the lowest crime rate in the US-of-A. Why? Because that granny you are looking at mugging might have a .38 special, or hell, even a 45.

Uhhh... last I checked Texas had like the 6th highest crime rate in the country. New Hampshire I am pretty sure has the lowest. Unless you are one of those lameos who seperate property and violent crime to hide the facts in order to prove their point.

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Uhhh... last I checked Texas had like the 6th highest crime rate in the country. New Hampshire I am pretty sure has the lowest. Unless you are one of those lameos who seperate property and violent crime to hide the facts in order to prove their point.

Ding, ding, ding! And the winner is you.

Texas ranks 6th in terms of highest crime rate with Arizona coming in first. North Dakota has the lowest crime rate. [stats as of 2004]

Guns don't kill people; people kill people. It sounds like a good idea to carry weapons around for protection, but you never know *who* is carrying weapons and what they may do with it.

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I like that enforcement-of-existing-laws idea, I am actually very conservative on weapons control because I have this twisted idea that violence is deeply human and it's wrong to deny people the right to die, etc. Someone please stab my grandma so I go liberal on this.

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So, wait.

People are getting killed with knives.

So outlawing knives is going to lead to an Orwellian Society wherein people are picked off the street for crimes they might commit.

I'm probably reading something wrong...

Anyway, weapon control; I've made points on it before. It's good stuff. I don't wanna get shot, I have no interest in shooting people. I don't understand why anyone would want to get shot or shoot people.

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An armed society is not a safer society. Although you might make a mugger think twice, you will cause many more unplanned crimes. Spontaneous fist fights would become deadly.

That being said, I do not think that under any circumstances that a population should not be allowed to have weapons. Although I do not support the carrying, and certainly not the concealment, of weapons, I am more opposed to the idea that I government would take away its citizens weapons.

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That being said, I do not think that under any circumstances that a population should not be allowed to have weapons. Although I do not support the carrying, and certainly not the concealment, of weapons, I am more opposed to the idea that I government would take away its citizens weapons.

And I'm opposed to the idea of the government having weapons.

Or the civilian population. It's completely a self-serving market. You need a gun because other dudes have guns, your country needs nukes because other countries have nukes.

Get rid of all of them, see what happens.

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And I'm opposed to the idea of the government having weapons.

Or the civilian population. It's completely a self-serving market. You need a gun because other dudes have guns, your country needs nukes because other countries have nukes.

Get rid of all of them, see what happens.

Congratulations! That is the most idealistic proposal I have ever heard!

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