More than 1,600 people cautioned or sentenced for carrying knives

More than 1,600 people were cautioned or sentenced for carrying knives and offensive weapons in the West Midlands and Staffordshire in one year.

Police say most of the people caught with a knife last year were young men aged between 15 and 19
Police say most of the people caught with a knife last year were young men aged between 15 and 19

Police say most of the people caught last year were young men aged between 15 and 19 who claimed they were carrying the weapons for protection.

The number of people penalised for possession peaked over the two regions last year – with a total of 1,673 offenders – according to figures from the Home Office, the highest in the last eight years. The level dropped to 1,184 in 2014 but has since steadily risen.

It brings into question the success of recent government legislation, which sees people given a mandatory prison sentence when caught possessing a knife for a second time.

The Express & Star is campaigning for offenders not to be given a second chance.

Today, West Midlands Police knife crime lead, Superintendent Ian Parnell, said: “One knife-related crime is one too many. The consequences of carrying knives can be catastrophic. We’ve seen people suffer very serious injuries, while offenders can expect to spend many years behind bars.

“If we look at the level of knife crime across the area we can see that although the statistics have increased recently – mirroring the national picture – it comes following a considerable decline leading up to the last few years. Nevertheless, there is still much work to do.

“The offences will include those where knives have been seen, used or threatened. In many cases no injuries have been caused, but we do understand the impact knife crime has on the community. The people we find most often in possession of a knife in public are young men aged between 15 and 19.

“A common excuse we hear is that it’s for their ‘protection’ – but that is a total fallacy and it’s shocking how many times young men are seriously hurt by the very knife they are carrying.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “West Midlands Police takes knife crime incredibly seriously.

“To tackle knife crime I am funding education programmes for young people on the dangers of carrying knives. Police have increased intelligence-led stop and search in areas where knife crime is anticipated.”

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A Staffordshire Police spokesman added: “Unfortunately the increase in knife crimes is a national trend, not just a Staffordshire trend.

“We are working with partners like schools, councils and Trading Standards to educate young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying knives. In time, as our collective effort continues, we are optimistic that we could see a positive change in these figures and hopefully reduce the numbers of offences and victims of knife crime.

“Realistically it is a mixture of both.

“We are putting more resources into tackling this growing trend, which inevitably leads to more offences recorded. However, due to the easy availability of knives, they are unfortunately a weapon of choice for many.”

Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said: “We can’t keep avoiding this issue, it’s essential action is taken and taken now to avoid more young people having their lives destroyed.”

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