Skip to main content

Offensive Weapons: West Midlands

Volume 477: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government has taken to reduce knife crime in the West Midlands. (209167)

[holding answer 10 June 2008]: The Government are implementing a range of actions to tackle knife crime across England and Wales.

On 5 June, the Government announced that anyone over the age of 16 caught in possession of a knife should expect to be prosecuted on the first offence. Those under 16 who commit offences without aggravating factors can still expect to receive a warning coupled with referral to a knife education scheme to help them understand the dangers and consequences of carrying knives, and reduce the chances of reoffending.

The Home Office also announced a targeted programme on the Tackling Gangs Action Programme model, working with police forces and local authority partners to tackle knife crime. £2 million has been allocated to support police partnerships in specific areas, including the West Midlands, which will include:

Increased use of searches, in targeted and intelligence-led operations, to complement the 100 new portable knife arches and 350 search wands brought in over the last three months.

Fast-tracking the ‘knife referral project’ in which all young people convicted of a knife offence but not receiving a custodial sentence attend a course to bring home the consequences of knife crime

Home visits and letters to parents of those young people whom intelligence suggests are known to carry weapons.

We are ensuring that the police have access to detection equipment through the provision of an additional 100 search arches and 400 search ‘wands’ this year, and we will provide additional equipment beyond this according to need.

We are working with the Youth Justice Board to ensure that young people convicted of knife offences receive focused interventions to change their behaviour and prevent them from reoffending.

In addition to focused local action, we launched on 29 May a knife marketing campaign investing £3 million over three years aimed at reducing youth knife possession. Developed by young people, the message “It doesn't have to happen” is being conveyed through posters, radio ads, viral video sharing and social networking sites. The campaign also focuses on engaging with mothers to encourage them to talk to their children about the dangers of carrying knives.