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Crime: Offensive Weapons

Volume 486: debated on Monday 19 January 2009

To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on recent trends in rates of prosecution of knife crime in (a) Northamptonshire and (b) England. (248589)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) holds no comprehensive record covering all offences in which a knife was a factor. Relevant offences may be prosecuted under a range of legislation, and cannot be distinguished as a discrete body of information.

CPS records do provide a count of the number of offences of possession of an offensive weapon, including knives and other bladed articles, in respect of which a prosecution commenced. Figures for the last three calendar years are summarised on the table below. The figures also include offences of possession of weapons other than knives and bladed articles, but CPS records do not allow these proceedings to be identified separately. Figures are shown separately for CPS Northamptonshire, for England, and for England and Wales in total.

The level of prosecutions for these offences in total has risen somewhat over the last three years. In Northamptonshire the number of offences in which a prosecution commenced rose by 25, or 12.3 per cent. between 2006 and 2008, although there was no change between 2007 and 2008. In England, prosecutions rose over the three year same period by 1,648 (7.2 per cent.), and in England and Wales they increased by 1,656 (6.9 per cent.).

Offences of possession of a knife or bladed weapon which reached a hearing in magistrates' courts

Table (a): CPS Northamptonshire

2006

2007

2008

Criminal Justice Act 1988 S139 (possession of a bladed weapon in public)

98

115

118

Criminal Justice Act 1988 S139A (possession of a bladed weapon in schools)

0

0

3

Prevention of Crime Act 1953 { 1(1)} (possession of "any offensive weapon." These figures may include some offences relating to bladed weapons, but these cannot be identified separately.)

106

114

108

Total offences

204

229

229

Table (b): England

2006

2007

2008

Criminal Justice Act 1988 S139 (possession of a bladed weapon in public)

10,556

10,620

12,567

Criminal Justice Act 1988 S139A (possession of a bladed weapon in schools)

174

174

233

Prevention of Crime Act 1953 { 1(1)} (possession of "any offensive weapon." These figures may include some offences relating to bladed weapons, but these cannot be identified separately.)

12,103

11,544

11,681

Total offences

22,833

22,338

24,481

Table (c): England and Wales

2006

2007

2008

Criminal Justice Act 1988 S139 (possession of a bladed weapon in public)

11,118

11,185

13,205

Criminal Justice Act 1988 S139A (possession of a bladed weapon in schools)

188

179

240

Prevention of Crime Act 1953 { 1(1)} (possession of "any offensive weapon." These figures may include some offences relating to bladed weapons, but these cannot be identified separately.)

12,846

12,263

12,363

Total offences

24,152

23,627

25,808