I rise to present a most compelling petition, signed by well over 20,000 people, including key supporters Vicky Painter, Jessica Shidell, Ann Oakes-Odger, Melanie Hopwood, Charlotte Hall and Sandra Griffiths.
Knife crime can kill young people, but it is too often dealt with by magistrates courts, which can give a maximum sentence of only six months. In reality, that involves serving only three months. That is simply inadequate, and does not provide the necessary deterrent to those who would go armed with blades to commit mayhem. The Evening Standard front page tonight declares that 10 people were knifed in London only last night. This illustrates the validity of the petition better than my words ever could. I thank everyone involved in the petition.
The petition states:
To the House of Commons.
The Petition of the supporters of the Knives or Lives? campaign, run by Essex FM, the Essex Enquirer and Essex Police in honour of Westley Odger, Tommy Jones, Andrew Griffiths and Kashif Mahmood, declares that clearer, more robust sentencing guidelines are needed for violent crime and particularly for those who carry out premeditated acts of violence with blades.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to implement a policy whereby individuals convicted of violent crime, who knowingly carried the weapon to the scene, be awarded harsher sentences to reflect the element of premeditation in carrying the weapon. The Petitioners also beseech this House to advocate the introduction of a mandatory minimum sentence for knife associated crime, including the carrying of a knife without good reason.
And the Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
To lie upon the Table.