Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Boxing Day stabbings: the knife-crime nightmare continues while the numbers jailed for carrying a weapon plummet

By Richard Barnbrook

The London knife-crime nightmare rages unabated with a double stabbing in Oxford Street in the midst of the Boxing Day sales. A fight in Foot Locker, in full view of shoppers, tragically resulted in a murder when an 18 year-old was stabbed in the heart. A further knifing occurred less than five hours later when a 21 year-old was stabbed in the thigh at Oxford Circus, but the victim fortunately survived.

Only three weeks earlier, on 2nd December, figures released by the Ministry of Justice showed that the proportion of people jailed for carrying a knife in England and Wales had fallen to its lowest level for more than three years. Only just over a fifth- 21%- of offenders convicted of possession of a knife or offensive weapon between July and September 2011 were jailed.

The Metropolitan Police have been increasing the use of ‘stop and search’ in order to deter young people from carrying knives. However, this is clearly not enough to reverse the situation if the courts are not prepared to impose tough sentences on those who are caught, in order to force potential knife-carriers to make a double-take. If they think that they are going to get away with it, then would-be offenders, especially youngsters, will continue to arm themselves because they mistakenly see the carrying of a weapon as a form of protection. And the problem is an ever increasing one: the more people who are seen to get away with routinely carrying knives, the more others will be encouraged to adopt the practice.

In the Legal Aid and Sentencing Bill, the government proposes to introduce a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four months for teenagers aged 16 and 17 convicted of threatening people with knives and 6 months for those aged over 18 years. This may be a step in the right direction, but in my view it’s only a tiny one. For a start, the defendant (aged 16 or over) would need to be shown to have actually threatened someone, so simply carrying a knife would not qualify. Secondly, the likelihood is that the offender would only actually serve half the sentence, which means in practice just two/three months inside. We need to fight fire with fire and send out a much stronger message, with a minimum term to be actually served of at least a year for those under 18 and 3 years for adults convicted for possession of a weapon in a public place. Only when the fear of getting caught outweighs that of being stabbed will the battle even begin to appear winnable.

 Meanwhile the tragic toll of those killed and maimed continues. What will it take for the politicians of all parties to get a grip?


Yorkshireminer said...

I wonder if any of our politicians have ever heard of Sir Percy Sillitoe, or the razor gang wars in Sheffield, in the 1920 and 30. Copper in the old style, he had cleaned up Glasgow, and was given the job of sorting out the gang problem in Sheffield which reached a head when an old soldier was set upon and murdered. His style was quiet simple, it consisted in forming a squad of solid built cops whose only job was too sort out the gang problem and not concentrate in filling in forms. They were sent round too the different pubs where the different gangs or leaders were hanging out.

The result was that after a few drinks a fight would start which usually ended up with certain bloodied gang leaders sobering up in the police station and becoming very sober when the magistrates who seem to have been made of sterner stuff, handed out long custodial sentences the following morning. It is not difficult imagining what they were charged with, striking a policeman causing an affray. The end result was that Sheffield never a paragon of Human virtue and love was quickly resorted too a quieter style of life. A knighthood meant something in those days more so than now, where any crook can get a gong. for the work above and beyond the call of duty in supplying our corrupt political parties any amount of dodgy money.

It is nice too know that the Labour party, not the shadow of its former self we see now, after the war under Atlee, made him the head of British Intelligence.

Anonymous said...

So long as Britain insists on restricting the right to keep and bear arms, criminals will have the upper hand.

Hand-wringing about "knife-crime" and "gun-culture" can not obscure the simple reality that criminals are criminals because they commit crimes. Real crimes, like robbery, assault and murder. Silly made-up crimes like "going armed" don't stop criminals, they merely disarm decent people and render them vulnerable to such predators.