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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

June 11, 2009: New Knife Crime Statistics

More criminals are being jailed for carrying a knife and the number of offences dealt with involving knives has fallen, according to new Ministry of Justice statistics. The new figures are contained in a quarterly statistical bulletin describing trends in cautioning, sentencing, supervision and imprisonment  population for possession of a knife or offensive weapon. The figures have been prepared from readily available management information to provide early indications of trends.

The figures  also show that offenders caught carrying a knife are receiving longer prison sentences and fewer cautions.

Between January and March 2009 the statistics show a fall of 7% in the total number of offences involving possession of a knife or other offensive weapon dealt with to 6,477 from 6,931, compared to same period in 2008. This fall increases to 15% for youths aged between 10 and 17.

The number of prisoners serving a sentence for possession of an offensive weapon increased by nearly half again (44%) between the first quarter of 2008 and the same period in 2009.

New statistics on knife crime sentencing for the 3 monthly period ending in March 2009 have been published by the Ministry of Justice.

The publication provides early indications of trends and is planned as a temporary release to cover the life and impact of the  Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP), which was launched in June 2008 to focus resources on rapid, intensive work in 10 areas of England and Wales to tackle knife crime.

The information presented combines both offences of possession of an article with a blade or point and offences of possession of an offensive weapon (which could be a knife). The sources of data used do not enable separate identification of other offences involving a knife, such as wounding offences.

On 5 June 2008, Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated:

“What I want to see is anybody who is using a knife goes to prison; anybody who is carrying a knife is subject to either prison or a strong community payback that forces them to give service to the community…There should be a presumption of either prison or a tough community payback. There’s a presumption to prosecute. We are clear that punishment will be severe – either prison or a tough community payback.”

On 21 May 2008, the Court of Appeal issued the judgment in Povey that said that, because of prevalence, magistrates should normally sentence those convicted of knife crime possession offences at the top end of the range.

The Sentencing Guidelines Council issued an update to the magistrates’ courts guidelines, with effect from 4 August, which set out the effect of the Court of Appeal judgment and made it clear that, for the time being, the starting point for the lowest level of knife possession should be 12 weeks’ custody. This applies to adults (aged 18 and over).

This applies in cases where a first time offender pleads not guilty to possession of a knife in non-dangerous circumstances. A guilty plea would attract a discount in the normal way, as would any personal mitigation, and could take the sentence below the custody threshold.

Since September all probation areas are able to provide intensive delivery of 300 hour Community Payback sentences for unemployed offenders convicted of knife crime offences, who are on the brink of custody. In January this offer of intensive delivery of a minimum of 18 hours per week over three days was extended to Community Payback sentences of any length imposed for an offence of knife crime, when an offender is unemployed.

According to the new figures, the total number of disposals (cautions and sentences) given for knife or offensive weapon possession has decreased by 7% between Q1 2008 and Q1 2009 (6,931 to 6,477). This drop was more marked for juvenile offenders where the decrease was 15% (1,591 to 1,359) and for those offences involving the possession of an offensive weapon (3,652 to 3,102) also a fall of 15%.

The number of cautions given for knife or offensive weapon possession decreased while the number of immediate custodial sentences, suspended sentence orders and community sentences rose between Q1 2008 and Q1 2009. In Q1 2009 25 per cent (1,599) of all possession offences resulted in a caution in England and Wales. This compares with 35 per cent (2,394) in Q1 2008.

In Q1 2009 20 per cent (1,320) of all possession offences resulted in immediate custody compared to 17 per cent (1,167) in Q1 2008.

In Q1 2009 33 per cent (2,161) of all possession offences resulted in community sentences compared to 29 per cent (1,977) in Q1 2008.

Where immediate custodial sentences are given for these offences there has been an increase in the proportion of longer sentences:

In Q1 2009 29 per cent (383) of sentences were recorded as being over six months compared to 14 per cent (169) in Q1 2008.

The average length of a custodial sentence was 185 days in Q1 2009. This had increased from 139 days in Q1 2008.

The proportion of juvenile offenders receiving reprimands and final warnings decreased from 46 per cent (736) to 37 per cent (504). This was balanced by an increase in the proportion receiving community sentences (from 43 per cent (679) to 53 per cent (725)).

For adult offenders the proportion receiving cautions decreased from 31 per cent (1,658) to 21 per cent (1,094).

It is worth noting that all statistics quoted in the new governmental quarterly statistical brief are provisional.