Cleveland Police take tough stance on knife crime following rise in cautions and convictions for possession of blades
Police have vowed to take hard action against knife crime following a slight rise in the number of people cautions and convicted for possession of blades.
The Cleveland Police area saw 282 offences of knife possession that led to cautions or convictions in 2018, a slight rise from 277 the previous year.
The Durham Constabulary area saw 200 offences in the same period, which compares to 184 in the previous year.
The latest figure is a 17% fall in the last five years, from 240 in 2013. In the Cleveland Police area there was a 4% rise in the previous five years, compared to 272 offences in 2013.
Nationwide convictions and cautions for knife possession offences have reached a nine-year high in England, the data released by the Ministry of Justice shows.
In 2018, the criminal justice system handed out 21,484 cautions or convictions for possessing knives or offensive weapons, or threatening with one of these weapons.
This is the highest number of offences dealt with since 2009 (25,103).
In more than a third of cases (37%) in 2018, offenders were immediately jailed. This is up from a fifth (20%) in 2008.
The average length of the custodial sentences received also increased over the same period, from 5.3 months to 8.1 months.
It comes as Cleveland Police has launched a knife amnesty this week where people can hand over blades at Hartlepool Police Station, in the town's Avenue Road.
Superintendent Wendy Tinkler, of Cleveland Police said: “In the twelve month period up to December 2018 there were 415 knife crime incidents in Cleveland, a reduction of 10% on the previous year. Cleveland Police takes knife crime very seriously and we will always look to take the appropriate action, whether that be a caution or being prosecuted in court.
"We also carry out educational work through schools and try to raise as much awareness as we can to highlight the dangers of carrying knives.
“We are currently taking part in a national knife surrender and continue to urge anyone who wishes to dispose of knives or sharp objects to take them to one of the main four police stations in Hartlepool, Stockton, Middlesbrough or Redcar to hand them in prior to the end of the surrender on Sunday 17th March.”
The Mail reported this week how police in Peterlee were called to a secondary school after a student was found with a knife in her possession.
The child and her parents were spoken to by officers and she will now be interviewed by police and the force reassured parents that incidents of a similar nature are 'extremely rare'.
A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said: “Thankfully, County Durham and Darlington is a safe place to live and, as these figures show, knife crime here is low.
“Carrying knives or other weapons does not keep you safe. By carrying a knife you are putting yourself in much greater danger and are more likely to become involved in a violent situation, potentially getting injured yourself.
“There is no place for knife crime on the streets of our county and if you do carry a knife illegally, rest assured we will do everything in our power to catch you and see justice is served.”
Justice Minister Rory Stewart said: “Knife crime destroys lives and shatters communities, and this government is doing everything in its power to tackle its devastating consequences.
“Sentences for those carrying knives are getting tougher – they are more likely to be sent straight to prison – and for longer – than at any time in the last decade.
“But we are doing more – yesterday the government committed a further £100m to tackle knife crime, while our Serious Violence Strategy works to prevent young people picking up a knife in the first place.”