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Knife crime reoffending is rising in Cornwall and Devon

Knife crime reoffending is rising in Cornwall and Devon

Published by Emma Carton at 10:24am 11th January 2019.

The number of criminals in Devon and Cornwall convicted or cautioned for knife crime, after previously being caught carrying a blade, has increased by more than a quarter over the last three years.

New Ministry of Justice data reveals that Devon and Cornwall Police took action against 336 people in the 12 months to September 2018, either for possession of a knife as a weapon or threatening someone with one.

Of those, 94, or 28%, had at least one previous offence for carrying a knife, and 23 of the criminals had three or more past offences.

That figure has increased since 2014-15, when 73 of those successfully prosecuted had reoffended. Police bosses say this could be down to improved identification techniques.

Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said the figures were "deeply depressing" and showed enforcement cannot prevent knife crime on its own.

"This indicates we cannot rely solely on prison if we are going to tackle the small but significant number of habitual reoffenders.

"These are people who are stuck in a spiral of violent crime".

Patrick Green

Mr Green said treating knife crime as a public health issue, which is beginning to be adopted in some parts of the country, could start to tackle the "underlying causes of knife crime".

Across England and Wales, the number of reoffenders increased by 35% over the last three years.

In Devon and Cornwall, in 2017-18, 44 children were charged with knife offences. This was a 13% rise on 2014-15.

"I'm confident that a public health approach will work, it will stop the next youngsters getting caught in the cycle of violent crime.

"It won't work immediately, but given time, as we've seen in Glasgow and US cities, if it's properly funded it can be successful".

Patrick Green

Overall 2% fewer people were cautioned or convicted by Devon and Cornwall Police for knife offences in 2017-18, compared with the previous 12 months.

The vast majority were for possession offences, while 17 were charged with making threats with a knife.

A total of 75 offenders were sent to prison, 68 were given community orders and 51 received a caution.

Across England and Wales, in the year to September, 21,381 cases were dealt with by the criminal justice system, the highest number since 2010. In one in five cases, offenders were aged under 18.

The MoJ report said offenders are now more likely to receive a custodial sentence for knife and offensive weapon offences.

"Knife crime has devastating consequences on families, children and communities. Offenders simply cannot go unpunished.

"These figures show we are catching and prosecuting more of those carrying knives and other weapons, and sending them to prison for longer.

"But we must do more, and through the Government's Serious Violence Strategy we are working to prevent young people from ever picking up a knife in the first place".

Justice minister Rory Stewart

Devon and Cornwall Police, as part of its commitment to reduce knife crime by focussing on prevention, supports the periodic national knife amnesties organised under the Home Office's Operation Sceptre.

801 knives and bladed weapons were anonymously disposed of during the last two knife amnesties held in Devon and Cornwall in July 2017 and earlier this year in February 2018, and have now been destroyed and taken out of circulation.

"The latest MOJ figures around repeat offenders shows Devon and Cornwall is bucking the national trend that has seen increases in repeat offenders.

"We held a knife amnesty earlier this month, and whilst the items handed in are still be counted and transferred for destruction, the indications are that the numbers from the latest amnesty are consistent with previous amnesties.

"One story that emerged was that of a mother who anonymously brought a lock knife into our Exeter police enquiry office. She explained that she had removed it from her son's bedroom as she was concerned that he was carrying it.

"As we have previously warned, it is often those that carry knives who end up injured by them if a confrontation takes place. This is therefore exactly the sort of reason why the knife amnesty was held in Devon and Cornwall, as part of our ongoing local approach to focussing upon prevention. Any knife taken out of circulation and off the street helps to prevent injuries and deaths.

"We are not complacent, but it's a fact that here in Devon and Cornwall we simply do not have the extent of knife crime reported in some major metropolitan areas of the country".

Superintendent Matt Lawler

You can check the latest figures for Cornwall and Devon here.

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