Call for tougher sentences for weapons offences as fraction get lengthy jail terms
Just one in every 11 criminals convicted by Cleveland Police for possessing knives, guns or other weapons are sentenced to at least a year in prison.
Ministry of Justice statistics show that 15 out of the 152 people convicted for weapons possession offences last year were handed prison time of 12 months or more.
More offenders received a community order, 45 in total.
Out of the 272 suspects Cleveland Police brought to court, 56% were found guilty.
In the Durham Constabulary area 93 people were found guilty in court of weapons possession offences last year.
But only six were handed prison time of 12 months or more, with 24 getting a community order.
Out of the 153 suspects Durham Police brought to court, 61% were found guilty.
Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust, a charity which aims to raise awareness about knife crime, said it was “important that we send a message that we are not going soft on offenders”.
Mr Green added: “The average custodial sentence for carrying a knife in Scotland is almost twice that of England and Wales. Knife crime is falling in Scotland and rising in England and Wales.
“But it’s critically important that we stop people carrying knives in the first place, we cannot police our way out of this.
“Education should be our first port of call and if offenders go on to carry knives there should be strong consequences. “It is unclear from these figures whether that is the case.”