Subject Predicate Object
Government response
government response summary
We have no plans to increase the minimum sentence for carrying a knife, equal to carrying a firearm.
government response details
The Government’s priority is to keep people safe, and is clear that the courts must have the powers they need to effectively sentence offenders. Sentencing should always match the severity of the crime. We understand the devastating impact knife crime has on victims and their families, and are determined to put a stop to violent crimes that involve knives. Parliament has provided sentencing rules to give courts powers they need to effectively deal with the range of offences and offenders which come before them. Where someone is actually harmed by a knife or offensive weapon, there are a range of offences that the person may be charged with, such as causing grievous bodily harm. These can result in lengthy sentences, including life imprisonment. For offenders aged 18 and over who bring a knife or another weapon to the scene of a murder with the intention of using it, courts will consider a minimum term spent in custody of at least 25 years. In 2015, we introduced minimum custodial sentences for repeat knife possession and offences that involve threatening with a weapon. Adults face a minimum of 6 months’ imprisonment whilst young people aged 16 or 17 face a minimum 4-month Detention and Training Order. Since the introduction of the minimum custodial term people caught carrying a knife or offensive weapon for a second time are now more likely than ever before to go to receive a custodial sentence – in 2019, 86% of offenders received a custodial sentence for repeat possession offences. We have no plans to increase the minimum sentence for carrying a knife. Where adult offenders were cautioned or convicted of possessing a knife or offensive weapon for the first time in 2019, over half (57%) received some form of custodial sentence (compared to the 13% of all first time adult offenders convicted or cautioned who received some form of custodial sentence in the year ending September 2019). When sentencing, the courts consider the full circumstances of the offence and offender and must follow any relevant sentencing guidelines produced by the independent Sentencing Council. The guidelines are clear that for any offence the use of a weapon will be treated as an aggravating factor meriting an increased sentence. This Government is clear knife crime must be tackled and 20,000 new police officers are being recruited as part of ongoing work to tackle serious violence. Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) have been introduced through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. These new laws are an additional tool police will be able to use to work with young people and adults to help steer them away from knife crime and serious violence. Breaching an order can result in up to two years in prison. KCPOs will be piloted by the London Metropolitan Police from April. We are also taking forward work on the detailed design of Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) which will give the police more power to stop and search those who have been convicted of knife crime. A person who is subject to an order will know that if they persist in carrying a weapon, there is a greater chance they will be searched, detected and arrested. The Government has launched a national campaign to begin to recruit 20,000 new police officers over the next three years – the biggest recruitment drive in decades, and we are making it easier for the police to use stop and search powers. We are also investing in Violence Reduction Units to tackle the root causes of crime, and are changing the law so police and other bodies are legally required to work together to stop serious violence.Ministry of JusticeThis is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (
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