Tough sentences fail to deter knife carrying

Tougher sentences on knife crime have little effect on the number of young people carrying knives, according to research  published today by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

In a series of interviews with under-18s held at Feltham Young Offender Institution and Remand Centre, Pentonville Prison governor Nicola Marfleet found that the risk of being sent to prison for carrying a knife was not a significant deterrent.

Marfleet also found that children as young as 11 were being drawn into carrying weapons. The main reasons they gave were fear, victimisation and the lack of strong parental figures.

Fear of reprisal

She said: “Young people spoke about how they were always anticipating attack, living under a constant fear of reprisal from other gangs who were armed and therefore they also needed to be.”

Frances Crook, Howard League for Penal Reform director, said the government’s investment in policing, enforcement and custodial sentences had failed to fully address the problem.

She added: “Targeted investment in health and education, as well as community projects that value young people and the skills they can offer, are vital if we are to find lasting solutions to knife crime.”

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