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New figures reveal fewer knife offenders in South Yorkshire are going to jail UK News

Campaigners say knife crime laws are being enforced ‘weakly and ineffectively’ as Department of Justice figures show fewer criminals going to jail for knife and weapon offenses in England and the Country of Wales.

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Knife crime Sheffield: The faces of Sheffield felons jailed for stabbing over…

In the year to September 2021, the criminal justice system handed down 497 sentences for knife offenses in South Yorkshire, of which 128 – 26% – were immediate prison sentences.

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Fewer knife crime offenders in South Yorkshire are going to jail, new figures show

This was a lower proportion than the previous year, when 36% of knife offenders were sent to prison, whereas in 2019 – before the coronavirus pandemic – the figure was 39%.

Nationally, just 28% of felons received jail time after being convicted of knife crime last year, down significantly from 36% in the year to September 2020 .

And despite the introduction in 2015 of “second strike” sentences of at least six months for repeat offenders, more than 5,000 had a history of similar offences.

Just over half of them were put behind bars, compared to 63% the previous year.

In South Yorkshire, 142 people with previous convictions have been cautioned or convicted of knife crimes, including 27 with two convictions and 21 with three or more convictions.

Of these, 64 were sent straight to jail, meaning 78 repeat stabbing offenders received non-custodial sentences or warnings.

Patrick Green, CEO of anti-knife charity Ben Kinsella Trust, said victims of knife crimes were shunned by the criminal justice system.

He said: “These figures show that the justice system has enabled thousands of habitual knife bearers to avoid jail and get out of court.

“The prospect of an offender being imprisoned for a crime committed with a knife is diminishing and the law no longer deters serial knife bearers.”

In England and Wales, 20,200 knife and offensive weapons offenses resulted in a conviction or warning in the year to September 2021, a 10% increase on the year previous year and the equivalent of 38 per 100,000 people.

The rate in South Yorkshire was 43 per 100,000, down from 40 in 2019, before the pandemic disrupted courts and communities.

A Department of Justice spokesman said those caught with a knife are more likely to be sent to jail – and for longer – than they were a decade ago.

He added that recruiting 20,000 more police officers coupled with sentencing reforms would bring more criminals to court and ensure offenders spend more time behind bars.

A spokesperson for the National Council of Chiefs of Police said tackling knife crime is a police priority.

He said: “Proactive policing, discussions with local communities, weapons sweeps and effective targeting of habitual knife carriers have played a part in the number of offensive weapons offenses being prosecuted.

“Every gun taken off the streets may be a life saved.”

To pass on information about those walking the streets armed, call South Yorkshire Police on 101.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-11 06:42:35

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