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Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many knives have been handed in during the current amnesty in (a) Beverley and Holderness and (b) Humberside Police Authority area; and if he will make a statement. (81702)

Figures for the number of items handed in during the first week of the knife amnesty have been collected at police force level. Humberside police report that 259 items were surrendered to them. 17,715 items were handed in England and Wales during the first week of the amnesty. We worked closely with ACPO to develop the arrangements for the amnesty, which was part of our wider strategy to tackle knife crime. We are also focusing on legislation, enforcement, education and prevention. We have brought forward provisions in the Violent Crime Reduction Bill that will raise the age at which someone can be sold a knife to 18; are introducing a new offence of using someone to mind a weapon; and giving head teachers powers to search pupils for knives. The Home Secretary announced on 19 June that he was giving very serious consideration to the suggestion that the maximum sentence for having a knife or blade in a public place should be increased from the current sentence of two years.

Many police forces are undertaking tough enforcement operations, for example, the Metropolitan police’s Operation Blunt and the British Transport police’s Operation Shield, which uses search equipment to detect those carrying knives and other weapons on our transport network. We are also supporting educational initiatives that demonstrate to young people the dangers of carrying knives, and reinforce the message that carrying a knife can result in it being turned on you. Though our small grants programme, the Connected Fund, we are also supporting a wide range of local community projects which work with young people to provide mentoring, training, education and other support.