Home Secretary Sajid Javid is radically stepping up the Government’s response to knife crime and will be introducing new orders to prevent criminals carrying blades. As part of decisive action to enhance police powers, the Government will seek to amend the Offensive Weapons Bill and introduce Knife Crime Prevention Orders.
This new deterrent can be imposed on any person aged 12 or over to prevent vulnerable young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime. It can be imposed on anyone whom the police believe is carrying a knife, are habitual knife carriers or have been previously convicted of a knife-related offence.
The new deterrent also fills a gap which is not covered by existing preventative orders such as gang injunctions and criminal behaviour orders.
Senseless violence “traumatising communities”
On introducing the measures, Sajid Javid said: “I’ve been clear that I will do everything in my power to tackle the senseless violence that’s traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives. The police already have a range of measures they are using to keep our streets safe, but there’s more we can do to help them in this battle. I have listened to their calls and will be introducing these new orders to stop gang members carrying knives in the first place. It’s vital we continue to focus on improving the law enforcement response, while at the same time steering young people away from criminal activity in the first place.”
The new civil orders will also limit behaviour by placing curfews and geographical restrictions on individuals as well as limiting their social media use, in turn preventing the rapid escalation of rival disputes.
To ensure compliance with these restrictions, any breach of an order will be deemed a criminal offence and the holder can be sent to prison for two years if convicted.
Action against retailers
The Home Secretary will also be taking further action against retailers found to be selling knives to children. A new £500,000 prosecution fund will help Trading Standards teams to secure the prosecution of retailers who repeatedly sell knives to under 18s.
As part of these further measures to intervene early, the Home Office is set to launch the next phase of #Knifefree in the Spring. The social media campaign, aimed at young people, looks to inspire them to pursue positive alternatives.
This announcement comes just months after the Home Secretary launched a new range of innovative measures to address violent crime in the UK, including a consultation on a new legal duty to underpin a ‘public health’ approach to tackling serious violence, a new £200 million Youth Endowment Fund and an independent review of drug misuse.
This latest move also continues the work of the Government’s ambitious Serious Violence Strategy which, backed by £40 million of funding, places a greater focus on steering young people away from a life of crime.
Response from the NPCC
Responding to the Home Office’s announcement, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball (the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for knife crime) stated: “We welcome the new powers. The introduction of Knife Crime Prevention Orders will provide us with a further means to help deter young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime. Police forces are already using a number of tactics to catch those who choose to carry a knife. We’ve increased patrols in knife crime ‘hotspots’ and we’re carrying out more targeted intelligence-led Stop and Search while also working with local partners to support victims.”
Ball added: “However, knife and violent crime isn’t something that can be solved by policing alone. We’re working with schools, charities and community schemes to educate young people and explain why carrying a knife is never the right choice. This early intervention really does play a vitally important role in stopping young people from turning to a life of crime.”