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Knife Amnesty

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 4 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland why the knife amnesty in Northern Ireland was not extended in line with the amnesty in England and Wales; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Northern Ireland knife amnesty. (80522)

Our approach to tackling knife crime has been different to that in other parts of the UK. We have participated in the national knife amnesty, but this has been accompanied by a year-long public information campaign aimed at addressing the culture of knife carrying among young people, which is unique to Northern Ireland. In addition to this, an education package will begin in schools in September and other measures will be introduced, including the raising of the minimum age at which a knife can be legally purchased to 18-years-old. It is our intention to hold a further knife amnesty during 2006, which again is unique to Northern Ireland and this will help us to gauge how effective these initiatives have been.

During the amnesty almost 900 items were handed in. In addition, the incidence of knife crime during the period of the amnesty fell by 30 per cent. This is clearly a good start and evidence that the amnesty has had an impact. However we intend to continue to address the problem of knife crime and I hope to make further announcements in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to launch the knife amnesty in Northern Ireland. (81224)

The knife amnesty began in Northern Ireland over three weeks from 24 May to 13 June. Nearly 900 items were handed in over this period, removing potential weapons from the streets. As stated in recent media we do plan to re-run the amnesty later this year. I have noted that the incidence of knife crime dropped by 30 per cent. during the period of the amnesty.

However the amnesty is just the beginning. The public information campaign aimed at tackling the culture of knife carrying among young people is still ongoing and an educational package will be introduced into schools from September. Legislation giving powers to increase the minimum age for buying a knife will be introduced also in the autumn. We will continue to look at different strategies, policies and initiatives to tackle knife crime in Northern Ireland and introduce any we consider will have an impact on reducing the incidence of this crime.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many crimes were committed in Northern Ireland during 2005 where a knife was used by the perpetrator. (81225)

In 2005-06 there were 1,130 crimes recorded where a knife was involved in the incident. The following table provides a detailed breakdown. These figures are offence-based rather than offender-based (no offender-based figures are available). While it is known that a knife was used in all incidents recorded, it is not possible to indicate how the knife was used.

Crime type


Class 1. Offences against the person




Attempted murder


Threat or conspiracy to murder


Wounding with intent/GBH with intent






Common assault2


Aggravated assault


Assault on police




Other offences against the person


Class 2. Sexual offences


Class 3. Burglary


Class 4. Robbery


Class 5. Theft


Class 6. Fraud and forgery


Class 7. Criminal damage


Class 8. Offences against the state


Possessing offensive weapon


Class 9. Other notifiable offences


Total crime


1 From April 2003, assaults with minor injuries are recorded as AOABH.

2 Prior to April 2003, offences where the victim received minor injuries were recorded as common assault.


Central Statistics Unit, PSNI.