John Apter responds to Ministry of Justice’s knife and offensive weapons sentencing stats
The new Prime Minister must put serious violent crime at the top of their agenda as the number of people caught with knives and weapons reaches its highest in almost a decade, says National Chair John Apter.
Ministry of Justice figures, released today (June 13), lay bare the extent of the serious violent crime wave which continues to sweep the nation.
They show in the 12 months to the end of March 2019, 22,041 possession offences were dealt with by police and courts - 34% up on 2015 and the highest total since 2010.
These mirror the police recorded crime figures for the same period which show over the year to December offences involving knives or sharp instruments went up by 6% to 40,829 making it the highest since records began.
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Serious violence may have slipped down the news agenda more recently, but these figures demonstrate yet again there is no sign of the epidemic abating.
"And while I welcome the slight increase in those responsible being sent to prison, we still see situations where violent offenders who carry knives are let off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. In addition, we see a significant increase in violent crime being reported but the fact is there are nearly 22,000 fewer officers on our streets since 2010.
“More offences and fewer officers is a dangerous combination and it is frustrating for me and my colleagues to witness the lives of so many being blighted when we know what can be achieved when we are a properly resourced service.”
The statistics also show offenders are also now more likely to receive an immediate custodial sentence for a knife and offensive weapon offence and for longer.
In 37% of cases a prison sentence was given straight away compared with 22% in the year ending March 2009. And the average length of the custodial sentences received has increased from 5.5 months to 8.1 months.
For just under three quarters (72%) of offenders this was their first knife or offensive weapon possession offence - its lowest level since records began in the year ending March 2009.
He continued: “The police cannot solve the serious violence problem alone, but we must be at the heart of any solution.
“For too long the Government has failed to put the safety and protection of the public first, so it is paramount the next Prime Minister – whoever that may be - puts policing and criminal justice at the centre of their policy making.
“We need more than just warm words with real commitment to make a tangible difference, and the investment to make it a reality,” he concluded.