Are there going to be tougher penalties for those who carry knives?
On the 17th July 2015 legislation came into force designed to tackle rising knife crime in that anyone convicted of an offence involving possession of a knife for a second time will face a minimum prison sentence of 6 months unless there are exceptional circumstances to their case. Advocates from Emery Johnson Astills have dealt with a number of these cases since the legislation came into force.
Many cases of this kind come before the Courts on an all too regular basis. In 2015 alone there were approximately 7,800 adult offenders sentenced for these offences, alongside 1,400 young offenders. There has been growing concern over recent years about the number of people carrying knives and other weapons on the streets.
The Sentencing Council said its proposed changes would ask sentencing judges and magistrates to assess the potential harm of knife possession. This would likely lead to adults convicted of the most serious incidents being jailed for between one and two-and-a-half years as an attempt to make sure that jail terms reflect the concerns relating to knife crime.
The draft proposal also states that people who carry knives in public – when in a group – could face longer jail sentences. Alongside this, with any offence, the Council have identified aggravating factors which the Court must consider when deciding a sentence, including;
- Deliberate humiliation of victims including filming of the offence
- Deliberately committing the offence in a group with the intent to cause distress to the victim
- Circulating the offending by way of details/photos/videos on social media
- Attempting to conceal identity
- Targeting victims working in the public sector or someone they find to be vulnerable
Council Member and District Judge Richard Williams said:
“Too many people are carrying knives and it only takes a moment of anger or drunkenness for one to be pulled out with fatal results or serious injury. Through these guidelines, we want to provide courts with comprehensive, up-to-date guidance to ensure that sentences reflect the seriousness of offending.”
Should you require any assistance in relation to this new guidance or any other matter please do not hesitate in contacting Emery Johnson Astills at either our Leicester or Loughborough offices.