Douglas Carswell

22 NOV 2012

How should we deal with knife crime?

This coming Tuesday, I've managed to secure a Parliamentary debate about knife crime in Westminster Hall.

Local people in my constituency are concerned about knife crime after a spate of nasty incidents. There's a strong feeling that enough is enough. 

Something needs to be done.  But what?

Raising awareness is great, but some might say local people are only too well aware of the problem.   I fully support the noble efforts of campaigners and local schools to spread the anti-knife message. Yet we also need to see something substantial from the criminal justice system.

First, the police need to use the considerable powers they already have to stop and search more people.  Difficult.  Time consuming.  A lot of hassle.  Yes, it is all of those things.  But it needs to happen. 

Secondly, those found to be carrying a knife need to be prosecuted. Not cautioned, but charged.  The current fashion for cautioning, rather than charging, wrong doers must be brought to an end whenever an offensive weapon is involved. 

A generation ago, many people thought it was okay to have a few beers before driving. Then the police started to stop and breathalyse drivers.  Those found to be over the limit were charged.

Attitudes soon changed.  Today drink driving is seen as a complete no no. We need the same sort of response in Clacton to change attitudes to carrying a knife.  Carrying a knife must carry a risk. 

Most important of all, the response has to be local.  This is all about a specific set of priorities to deal with specific concerns about knife crime in Clacton.

If the Clacton solution works, then others should feel free to emulate it. What we must not have is a bland, generic, it's-all-about-PR, non-response.

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