Police Federation

Response to Home Secretary's knife crime announcement

31 January 2019

New plans aimed at tacking the country’s knife-crime epidemic have been described as ‘merely tinkering around the edges of the problem’ by the Police Federation of England and Wales.

The new measures announced by the Home Office today include:

  • the introduction of Knife Crime Prevention Orders
  • increased action against traders who sell knives to children
  • more money to help Trading Standards prosecute retailers who repeatedly sell blades to under
  • and the continuation of the #knifefree campaign.

The new Knife Crime Prevention Orders can be given to any person aged 12 or over with the aim of stopping vulnerable young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime.

Reacting to the announcement the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter said the Home Secretary had, yet again, missed the opportunity to make a significant impact on this problem.

“The Government is simply tinkering around the edges of this highly complex and very serious issue. While I cannot fault Mr Javid’s intentions I do not hold out much hope that these measures will have the dramatic impact I am sure he is hoping they will.

“I hear a lot about the Government’s Serious Violence strategy but what I also hear a lot about is the continuing epidemic of serious violent crime affecting our youngsters and blighting our communities.”

The new orders can be imposed on anyone who police believe is carrying a knife, are habitual knife carriers or people previously convicted of a knife-related offence. The government say they will fill the gaps not already covered by existing preventative orders such as gang injunctions and criminal behaviour orders.

The new civil orders will also restrict behaviour by placing curfews and geographical restrictions on individuals as well as limiting their social media use – which is claimed will prevent the rapid escalation of rival disputes.

Breach of an order will be a criminal offence and the holder can be sent to prison for two years if convicted.

Last week the latest crime figures were released which show knife crime is up again, as is the number of hospital admissions for stabbings.

Mr Apter continued: “This issue needs to be tackled head on and the best way to do that is to invest in policing and increase the number of police officers. Since 2010 we have lost almost 22,000 officers which means gone are the local teams who would gather intelligence about those carrying weapons, gone are the liaison officers who worked with communities to help divert those youngsters at risk of being drawn into this world, and gone are the proactive squads which would actively target those who carry knives; and that is without taking into account the chronic shortage of detectives who prepare and apply for orders such as these.

“How the Home Secretary thinks we have the officers available to monitor teenagers’ social media use or check they are at home at 10pm when we are struggling to answer 999 calls is beyond me.

“Mr Javid says he has listened to the police. But his hearing appears to be selective. I urge him to listen now, to listen to the public, and to listen to my members when they tell him the most effective way to address this problem is by putting more police boots on the ground.

“We need officers out on our streets actively targeting this crime epidemic where it is happening, and helping to stop yet more lives being lost to this preventable evil,” Mr Apter concluded.

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