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Knives: Crime

Justice written question – answered on 10th September 2013.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2013, Official Report, columns 387-9W, on knives: crime, what the court proceedings data are for those who received the maximum custodial sentence for possession of a knife in 2012.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

This Government takes knife crime very seriously and sentence lengths are increasing for those caught carrying a knife in a public place.

Unlawful possession of a knife or offensive weapon is a serious criminal offence which carries a maximum four year custodial sentence. Where someone is actually harmed there are a range of other offences with very tough maximum sentences, such as causing grievous bodily harm, that the person will be charged with.

Last year we introduced new offences of using a knife to threaten and endanger others in a public place or a school. These offences carry a minimum sanction of six months custody for adults and a four month Detention and Training Order for juveniles.

The Government is also considering whether there is a case for further changes to be made to the sentencing framework for knife possession as part of the knife sentencing review.

Within the sentencing framework set by Parliament, it is for judges and magistrates to decide the appropriate sentence in individual cases taking account of the harm the offence caused and the culpability of the offender. Under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 there is an obligation on courts, when sentencing for offences to follow the guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council, unless it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so.

Available information on the number of offenders sentenced at all courts to immediate custody, and those who received the maximum sentence of four years and the maximum custodial sentence imposed for knife possession offences, in England and Wales from 2008 to 2012, can be viewed in the table.

Following further validation and receipt of additional magistrates court records, a number of revisions have been made to previously published 2011 information. As such, 2011 figures may not match what was previously provided.

Court proceedings data for 2013 are planned for publication in May 2014

Offenders sentenced at all courts to immediate custody, and those who received the maximum sentence, for knife possession offences, England and Wales, 2008-12(1, 2)
Offence description   2008 2009 2010 2011(5) 2012
Having an article with blade or point in public place(3) Immediate custody 1,373 1,671 1,403 1,578 1,323
  Maximum sentence of four years 2
Having an article with blade or point on school premises(4) Immediate custody 4 4 10 7 4
  Maximum sentence of four years
(1) The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe. (2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. (3) An offence under Criminal Justice Act 1968 S.139 as amended by Offensive Weapons Act 1996 S.3. (4) An offence under Criminal Justice Act 1988 S.139A (1K5)(a) as added by Offensive Weapons Act 1996 S,4(1). (5) Following further validation and receipt of additional magistrates court records, a number of revisions have been made to previously published 2011 information. As such, 2011 figures may not match what was previously provided. Note: Excludes life and indeterminate sentences. Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services in the Ministry of Justice.

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