CHILDREN as young as 12 are to be handed new Knife Crime Prevention Orders as ministers move to curb a surge in knife crime.
These orders would be imposed on anyone aged 12 or over who police suspect to be carrying a knife, and they could be placed under curfew or have restrictions on their social media use.
A breach of these orders would be a criminal offence punishable by a two-year prison sentence.
Introducing the measures, home secretary Sajid Javid said: “I have been clear that I will do everything in my power to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives.
“The police already have a range of measures they are using to keep our streets safe, but there is more we can do to help them in this battle. I have listened to their calls and will be introducing these new orders to stop gang members carrying knives in the first place.
“It is vital we continue to focus on improving the law enforcement response while at the same time steering young people away from criminal activity in the first place.”
Javid said action will be taken against retailers found to be selling knives to children.
The home secretary revealed a new £500,000 fund to help Trading Standards prosecute retailers who repeatedly sell knives to under the age of 18. He also announced the launch of a new #Knifefree campaign in spring.
This announcement comes just days after new statistics showed crimes involving knives or sharp weapons have hit an eight-year high in England and Wales.
However, many have called Javids proposal flawed.
Sarah Jones MP, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on knife crime, told The Guardian that imprisoning someone as young as 12 for breaching the order was disproportionate. “It risks criminalising a generation of young people who have grown up unsupported and who often turn to carrying weapons out of fear,” Jones said.
“The APPG has been pushing for some time for the government to prevent proven knife offenders from using social media to incite violence, but this should not apply to young people if they haven’t committed a crime.”
Javid responded, saying the new order would act as a deterrent and stop youngsters from committing a knife-related offence.
“London communities are being devastated by the blight of knife crime and families are being torn apart. That’s why I am redoubling our efforts to stop this senseless bloodshed,” he was quoted as saying in the Evening Standard.
“Our brave police officers already have a range of measures to keep our streets safe. But having spoken to senior police leaders, including the Met Commissioner, it is clear there are areas of enforcement we can enhance.
“I am confident these new civil orders will act as a deterrent and stop individuals who are likely to carry, or use a blade, going on to commit a knife-related offence. But we all need to work together to ensure youngsters do not get drawn into a life of crime in the first place.”