Knife Crime Prevention OrdersPepperells
The disturbing and growing rate of knife crimes in England and Wales is clear for everyone to see. However, the following statistics may come as a shocking surprise to some.
Ten teenagers and children have been killed already in 2019 as a result of knife crime. During Channel 4’s show, Dispatches, it was revealed that there had been a 93% rise in hospital admissions for attacks with a knife or other sharp object on children under 16 since 2012.
The government, in an attempt to halt this harrowing surge of knife crimes, are in the process of attempting to introduce new legislation which will include Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs).
KCPOs would allow the Courts to place curfews and geographical restrictions on suspects, alongside limiting the suspects use of social media. The aim of limiting social media use is to prevent gang rivalries escalating. The measures that could be imposed upon the use of social media include limiting the users contact with specific people online.
It is proposed the Orders be available to be imposed on any person aged 12 or above and who the police believe routinely carries a knife, is carrying a knife or has been previously convicted of a knife related offence. If the Order is breached, a criminal offence would be committed with a subsequent maximum sentence of up to two years imprisonment for an adult.
However, a recent report in the Law Gazette states that the Magistrates have not yet been consulted about these measures. John Bache, the Magistrates Associations chair stated, “The KCPOs were introduced at committee stage of the Offensive Weapons Bill without prior indication they were being considered.” “The Association’s concerns relate not just to whether these Orders are needed on top of existing powers, but also how they would work in practice.”
There has been much doubt cast over whether the KCPOs will have a positive impact on the current knife crime epidemic. Sarah Jones MP, the chair of The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Knife Crime criticised the Orders by stating, “Imprisoning a young person- as young as 12 years old- for two years for breaching this Order is completely disproportionate. It risks criminalising a generation of young people who have grown up unsupported and who often turn to carrying weapons out of fear.”
Although it is a positive move forward that the government are seeking to address the current crisis by introducing new legislation, only time will tell following enactment how the new legislation works in practice and whether these changes to the law are beneficial for society as a whole.
The third reading of the Offensive Weapons Bill is scheduled to take place on the 19th March 2019.