Knife and other weapons offences in Britain are at their highest level since 2009, according to new statistics, with over a fifth of culprits being under 18.
Ministry of Justice figures show that some 21,484 knife and offensive weapon offences were recorded for 2018, the highest figure since 2009 — when the country was still in the wake of the financial crisis and unemployment was significantly higher.
Fully 4,430 of these offences, or 21 percent of the total figure, involved a criminal aged 10 to 17, highlighting the increasing propensity for violence as social cohesion breaks down in the British capital of London and other major urban centres.
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The figures also gave the lie to repeated claims by politicians and some lawyers that sentencing for weapons crimes has been toughened up, with only 37 percent of convicts being given an immediate custodial sentence, with the average term lasting only 8.1 months, according to ITV News.
It should be noted, moreover, than in most cases only half of these terms will actually be served in custody before the offender is released automatically to serve the remainder of their time “on licence in the community”.
This lack of immediate (as opposed to suspended) custodial sentences has emerged despite the Government announcing a “two strikes” minimum sentence for repeat knife carriers under the previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, in 2015, after they were able to shed the Liberal Democrats who had blocked the policy during 2010-15 coalition government.
As with previous headline-grabbing initiatives to introduce mandatory prison sentences for drug traffickers and repeat burglars, judges not particularly inclined to hand out long terms have been left with sufficient wriggle-room to avoid imposing them — with Freedom of Information requests lodged the The Telegraph revealing that some 577 knife criminals were allowed to walk free from court despite having three or more previous convictions.
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