Punish those selling knives to children say Lib Dems
Andrew Simpson, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Northampton North constituency, is calling for tougher action against those caught selling knives to children and young people.
Andrew Simpson made the call after being sent figures for prosecutions that were uncovered in Parliament by Chris Huhne MP, the party's Shadow Home Secretary.
The figures reveal that over the country as a whole:
• Only 71 people have been successfully prosecuted for selling knives to children in the last five years
• None were sent to prison and only one was given a community sentence
• 56 people were fined, but 21 of them were given fines of less than £200
"This is a completely inadequate deterrent to unscrupulous shop keepers who flout the law to sell these weapons to children and young people," said Andrew Simpson.
"These tiny fines and a lack of custodial punishment is the wrong signal to those who profit from the illegal sale of knives.
"These figures are particularly worrying as they came to light only days after the release of other figures showing 216 serious crimes in Northamptonshire Police Authority area involved a knife in 2007/8. Knife crime is 17% of all serious crimes taking place here.
"These figures do not record children and young people separately but they do show that knife crime is a serious problem. It is too easy for children and young people to get hold of knives. Too many are being drawn into a culture of carrying and using knives.
"Liberal Democrats believe that the courts must take a much stronger stand against those who are fuelling knife crime by illegally selling knives to children and young people.
"Cutting the supply of knives will be one of the most effective ways to reducing knife crime in the first place."
Notes to Editors
The figures and percentages for knife crime in each police authority area can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0708.pdf, page 85 (the first column of figures gives the number of knife crimes, the second gives the percentage). (Serious crimes are defined as attempted murder, wounding with intent to do GBH, wounding or inflicting GBH, robbery of business property, robbery of personal property.)
The maximum punishment for selling a knife to someone who is underage is six months in prison and/or a £5,000 fine. Since 1st October 2007 underage in this context has been under 18 years of age. However the figures obtained by Chris Huhne are for the period 2002-6 (the latest period for which figures are available), when it was under 16 years of age.