Knife crime update

For those of you following the debate about the government's strategy, including it's sentencing policy on knife crime, you may wish to note that some £18m is to be spent on tackling knife crime.

Theresa May, Home Secretary, announced on  2nd February 2011 that some £18m is to be made available in the continued fight against knife crime as well as crimes involving guns and gangs.  Is this another victory for campaigners for tougher laws on crime knife following the alarming numbers of young people injured or killed as a result of people carrying and using knives?  

It was just last March that the then Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, announced that there should be a minimum jail term of 25 years for those who go armed with a knife and then go on to kill.  This represented a ten year increase from the previous starting point of 15 years. The 15 year starting point was one which the families of victims found difficult to understand.  The 25 year period is now much closer to the starting point for murder using a firearm, which is 30 years.

The reality is of course that even now the trial judge has the ability to reduce the tariff for relevant factors such as the age of the defendant.  This is exactly what happened in the case of Daniel Smith, aged 23 years, in what is considered to be the first murder trial that took place under the higher tariff of 25 years.  The trial judge took Smith's young age into account and reduced the minimum sentence to 20 years.

In announcing the government's proposals Theresa May acknowledged the hard work of Brooke Kinsella, the sister of Ben Kinsella who was stabbed to death on the streets of London in June 2008 and whose death sparked a timeless campaign for reform, saying:

"Brooke Kinsella has done a great job in highlighting what works and what could work better in trying to achieve that.

"Off the back of Brooke's recommendations, we will invest money into changing attitudes and behaviour, alongside being tough on those who persist in being involved in senseless crimes."

No doubt the debate will continue as will the scrutiny of the crime figures.

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