Stop and search is the only way

PUBLISHED: 16:46 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 14:45 12 May 2010

THERE is a fundamental question which must be asked of the police regarding the knife amnesty and will show just how effective it has been. How many of the knives surrendered are illegal knives and how many are legal? Illegal knives include switchblades,

THERE is a fundamental question which must be asked of the police regarding the knife amnesty and will show just how effective it has been. How many of the knives surrendered are illegal knives and how many are legal?

Illegal knives include switchblades, gravity knives, butterfly knives and sword canes. Legal knives include pen knives, hunting knives and culinary knives.

If, as I suspect from the images being shown by the police, the answer is no - or very few - illegal knives and many legal knives, then the amnesty has been a total failure and the public have been misled.

An amnesty is "a period during which offenders are exempt from punishment".

Owning a legal knife is not a crime, therefore only the surrender of illegal knives can be considered the result of a successful amnesty.

Hand-axes and meat cleavers are the extreme examples given in The Crow article, these are tools which are entirely legal and easy to buy in most towns.

It is only alarming if you view them as weapons, but in reality they are a poor choice of weapon for a criminal, as they are heavy and difficult to conceal. Legal knives are ubiquitous because they are useful tools which can be purchased legally, with age restrictions.

Illegal knives are rare, because they have not been on sale in this country since the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act (1959) came into force. This is an important distinction. Generally, illegal knives differ from legal knives, by being easier to conceal and/or are specifically designed for fighting.

This so-called amnesty is pure "security theatre" - it does nothing to reduce the number of knives being carried by criminals, because criminals can easily replace their knives in a completely legal way (provided they are over the age of 16).

It does nothing to dissuade a criminal from using a knife in his/her next crime and, in fact, what better way to dispose of a murder weapon? All the police are addressing is the public fear of crime, by being "seen" to be doing something about it, in a way that the media can easily comprehend.

Thanks to The Criminal Justice Act (1988), it is illegal to carry in public, a knife with a non-folding blade greater than 3in, unless you have a valid reason such as being a chef or a fisherman.

The only way to reduce the number of knives being carried illegally, is for the police to use their powers of stop and search to catch and prosecute offenders.

How can collecting unwanted cutlery in a wheelie bin, possibly address the problem of criminals carrying knives?

JUSTINE SMITH

E-mail

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Royston Crow

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists