David Mowat today welcomed news that the Government has changed its mind on mandatory minimum sentences for juveniles involved in knife crime.
The Government was already planning to introduce mandatory minimum sentences for anyone over the age of 18 using a knife to "threaten or endanger" in the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Bill, being discussed in the Commons next week. However amendments put down by David Mowat and Conservative colleague Nick de Bois MP – and now accepted by the Government – would extend these sentences to those aged 16 or 17. 15 year olds would also be significantly more likely to be sent to prison under the proposals.
The amendments would impose a minimum sentence of 4 months for 16 and 17 year olds of which 2 months would be under a close supervision order. Young Offenders would be taken out of their present environment would work closely with officers in youth custody to resolve issues and to prevent them from carrying knives once their sentence had been completed. In metropolitan areas, up to 40% of knife crimes are committed by people under the age of 18.
Mr Mowat said:
"I warmly welcome the Government's policy of introducing minimum sentences for adults involved in knife crime, but I felt that the policy didn't go far enough in tackling the root cause of the problem. Statistics suggest that in urban areas, up to 40% of knife crime involves someone who wouldn't have been covered by the Government's original policy, so I welcome the fact that they have sensibly decided to extend the scope of the Bill.
"We need to send out a very strong message that, whatever age you are, it is simply not acceptable to carry a knife in public. By adopting these amendments, the Government is making it very clear to criminals: if you are involved in knife crime, you will go to prison."