Sentencing guidelines provide that the starting point for an adult convicted of knife possession is a custodial sentence. Where immediate custody is given, the average sentence length increased between June 2010 and June 2011. We are creating new offences so that those who carry a knife in a public place or school, and go on to threaten and cause immediate risk of serious physical harm to another, can expect to face at least a minimum custodial sentence.
Constituents in Burton will applaud the statements just made about sentences for the type of crime that is covered today on the front page of the Burton Mail, in which a young man was frogmarched to a cash point and forced to hand over money at knifepoint. They want to see that kind of tough sentencing as a deterrent. Will the Secretary of State back the Burton Mail campaign to make Burton a knife-free zone and to prevent these kinds of activities happening again?
If the newspaper report is accurate, then whoever carried out that crime committed quite a number of criminal offences, most of which carry very serious penalties, so I hope that the local courts deal with it with appropriate seriousness, having obviously considered all the circumstances. We are sending out, we hope, a strong message that we will not tolerate the use of knives. Threatening with a knife and putting someone in fear of injury is a very serious matter. I wish my hon. Friend every success in working with his constituents to try to reduce the scourge of knife crime in Burton.