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Offensive Weapons: Young People

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what account she took of academic research into the effects of Scared Straight programmes in formulating her policy that young people at risk of involvement in knife crime should visit convicted offenders in prison; what research papers on the subject her Department has evaluated; and if she will make a statement. (219780)

[holding answer 17 July 2008]: The Government announced on 13 July new measures to tackle knife crime. Anyone under 16 years old convicted of possessing, but not using a knife, can 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 to reduce the chances of re-offending. These schemes for young people will make them understand the full consequences of their actions and will include weapons awareness sessions which provide detailed information on the risks and consequences of carrying knives; it may also include discussions with healthcare professionals and victims' organisations and offenders so that young people understand the full impact of carrying a knife and where it may lead.

The Government are aware of research on the impact of programmes such as Scared Straight. We have made it clear that meetings with offenders form part of this wider programme.

The Government are aware of research evidence on such programmes. This is based on a systematic review published by the Campbell Collaboration, by A. Petrosino, C. Turpin-Petrosino and J. Buehler (2003): "Scared Straight" and other juvenile awareness programmes for preventing juvenile delinquency. However, no UK evaluations were included in the Review.