Fewer cautions given for knife possession

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The number of people receiving a caution for possession of a knife has fallen, new figures show.

The lowest form of formal police action was accepted by 20 per cent (875 cases) of those caught carrying bladed weapons in the third quarter of this year, down from 23 per cent (1,101) in the same period last year the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics showed.

The figures come in the same week Justice Secretary Chris Grayling introduced a new offence of aggravated knife crime with the aim of jailing more offenders, saying he was “not happy” with the number of cautions issued by police.

But immediate custodial sentences for knife possession were also down from 25 per cent (1,362) of cases in the same part of 2011 to 23 per cent (1,008) this year, although they were up on the previous three months from April to June (22 per cent).

Conservative Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: “We are clear knife crime is unacceptable and must be dealt with severely.

“That is why we have just introduced a new offence so anyone who uses a knife to threaten or endanger others in public or in a school will now face a mandatory custodial sentence.

“We are also conducting a review of the punishments available for carrying a knife and will 
bring forward proposals in due course.”

The MoJ statistics showed a rise in only one category of punishment, suspended prison sentences, which increased from 11 per cent (689) to 13 per cent (579) compared with this time last year.

The number of people receiving community punishment for knife possession fell from 30 per cent (1,672) to 29 per cent (1,274).

The new laws were introduced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling last weekend and also include a “two strikes and out” rule which will see offenders given life terms if they commit a second serious offence for crimes such as rape, armed robbery and inflicting grievous bodily harm.