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.
Police seizing more than 10,000 knives during a week-long campaign has provided insight into what could the norm if the service was adequately funded, says the national chair of the Federation.
All forces joined Operation Sceptre between 11 and 17 March which saw 1,372 people arrested, including 516 for a knife related offence through a series of measures including intelligence-led stop and searches and weapon sweeps.
John Apter, national chair of Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The staggering amount of knives seized in such a short period of time not only highlights the severity of the issue, but shows just what our hard-working members are able to achieve when they are resourced properly. However, it must be pointed out that operations such like this are only possible if officers are diverted from other vital duties which is a deeply concerning situation.
National Chair John Apter today attended Downing Street’s knife crime summit headed by the Prime Minister, but questions remain over the Government’s next move.
This afternoon over 100 experts, including Met Commissioner Cressida Dick, gathered to discuss how an improved multi-agency response could become part the solution to the knife crime epidemic which Home Secretary Sajid Javid described as a “disease rotting our society”.
PFEW Chair John Apter, said: “Today I spoke with Policing Minister Nick Hurd on behalf of all our members and reminded him of how much policing has been affected by his party’s austerity measure with almost 22,000 fewer officers than on the streets since 2010 leaving them struggling to meet the demands placed on them.
Home Office proposals to create knife crime prevention orders, which are due to be debated by MPs for the first time on Tuesday 26 March, could criminalise thousands of children who are themselves victims of slavery, trafficking or criminal exploitation.
A joint briefing by the Prison Reform Trust and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, sent to MPs ahead of the House of Commons debate, warns that there are insufficient safeguards built into the proposed legislation to ensure that the full circumstances of the child are taken into account by the police applying for the orders and the court before an order is imposed.
As well as unnecessarily criminalising vulnerable children, this could lead to inappropriate restrictions being imposed which could place the child at increased risk of neglect or abuse.
The Government has received another stark reminder of the knife crime epidemic gripping the country as official statistics show the number of offensive weapon offences dealt with by the Criminal Justice System is at its highest for almost a decade.
Reacting to the figures, which were released today (14 March) by the Ministry of Justice, National Chair of the Police Federation John Apter said: “These statistic confirm what I, and my members, know to be true - that knife crime is increasing and is devastating our communities.
“They are also indicative of the hard work and dedication shown by police officers in tackling this issue and bringing those who do choose to carry weapons to justice despite there being almost 22,000 fewer of them than there were in 2010.
“And they send a strong message that those found in possession of knives will be dealt with seriously and robustly by the police, and the criminal justice system.”
The news that knife crime has reached its highest level ever is shocking, but not surprising, says the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).
Knife crime is officially up by 16% as a staggering 40,147 incidents were recorded by police in the past 12 months, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today.