Three In Five Say Jail Should Be Automatic For People Caught Carrying Knives In Public

Sixty-two per cent of people agree that people should automatically go to jail for carrying a knife in public, a poll commissioned by the BBC’s Panorama suggests.

Sixty-one per cent of those surveyed disagree that the current law is enough to stop under-16s carrying a knife.

The results of the poll complement the Panorama programme Jailed For Knife – to be broadcast tonight at 8.30pm on BBC One – where reporter Raphael Rowe obtains access to young offenders in prison serving sentences for knife crime.

In a series of thoughtful and sobering interviews conducted in their cells, Raphael Rowe asks tough questions of five young men who have wounded or killed with a knife.

The programme raises questions about whether or not the law has been tough enough for those caught in possession of a knife.

One young man from Nottingham explains how he was released on bail after stabbing and injuring someone – only to stab and wound someone else.

Asked about the threat of prison, he replies: “Never thought about it, you know, that’s being truthful, I never even thought about that, like… everyone thinks, ‘oh, yeah, I can do this and I’ll get away with it, it’s gonna be nothing’.”

Most of the young offenders regret the fact that they did not have someone to talk to them when they were younger, on their own level, about the consequences of carrying a knife.

Another offender said: “You have to relate to us or to, to the people. If you don’t relate then whether you’re talking sense or not I’m not gonna take it on board because I, it’s just, I think, I think you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Statistics from the Panorama survey suggest that the vast majority of 16-24 year olds agree with them – 90% said that more young people should hear firsthand experiences of knife crime from reformed young offenders.

As the survey also suggests, 43% of people agree that under-16s caught with a knife should automatically go to jail for their first offence – something which 42% of 16-24 year olds polled agreed with.

In a similar vein, some of the young offenders Raphael Rowe spoke to felt that young people found in possession of a knife should automatically get a prison sentence of at least four years (the current maximum sentence).

A third offender said: “I’ve seen people come in and out of here – three or four times since I’ve been in jail for a knife or GBH – 18 months – to be honest I agree with the people when I read the papers that sentences should be longer – it should be a sentence that’s going to get through to them not this in and out of jail business.”

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