Recently released figures for the three months between July and September confirm that those being jailed for offending whilst in possession of a knife or simply for the possession itself have fallen by over 20% to the lowest level since the first half of 2008. The average sentence has risen slightly, but it still stands at less than 7 months (or nearer three when discounts and other such benefits are applied).
Although knife related deaths and attempted murders last year accounted for just over 400 recorded offences the number of these most serious offences is tiny in comparison to the 14,000 robberies committed using a knife – these offence numbers are particularly worrying as robberies can easily become murders. Knife assisted rapes rose by 11% showing although the number of offences is still below 250 per year.
Gun crime on the other hand has dropped by 7% over the same 12 month period.
*These figures do not include offences in West Mids whose offence data was not included in the above analysis
Part of the drop in custodial sentences is due to the increased use of community and suspended sentences which have both increased in judicial popularity over the same three months. Obviously the result of this is more offenders being left in their “communities” and free to offend again unless they are the part of the minority that take note of the “just don’t do it again” sentencing that is such a favourite in recent years.
The rise in knife related offending might explain some of the increased use of Taser over the last year. A rise of 70%, year on year, in discharges of Taser has been recorded from information obtained from the 40 forces that responded to Freedom of Information requests.
70% might seemÂ a huge increase, but the total number of uses is still only a fraction over 1500 uses in response to many tens of thousands of weapon and violence related offences which attracted a Police response.
It is yet to be seen whether new offences due to be introduced soon will reverse the downward trend in the number of custodial sentences handed down by the courts. The main introduction will be that of an offence ofÂ Â aggravated knife possession. This offence will mean anyone aged 16 or over who uses a knife to threaten and endanger others will face a custodial sentence. Perhaps an increase in the average sentence length should be considered in conjunction with this.
The Met Commissioner has stated his will to have a Taser in every Met Police vehicle (even if Boris doesn’t agree) and I completely agree. Incidents of violence against the public and the Police are rising. We may not be allowed to be upset by those who stand and shout abuse in our faces any more, but we have a right to defend ourselves and others from attack.