Recently I was on the Radio talking about knife crime and specifically what steps we should be taking in the legal system to help combat knife crime in Scotland. I spoke briefly about various initiatives being carried out by the Police which, in my opinion, go someway to helping to combat the problem we have in our culture of people carrying knives.
Over the last ten years the number of stabbings has remained fairly static. However, the numbers being reported are on the increase and the age of both the victims and the perpetrators are steadily decreasing.
The hard work being done by the police is being let down by the powers of the courts in dealing with such offenders. In my opinion, people who carry a weapon (any weapon, not just a knife) who can have o possible lawful reason to be carrying that weapon (and cannot demonstrate that there was a lawful reason at the time of carrying it) are a danger to themselves and society as a whole. As such there is only one place that they belong: prison.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I am not a fan of prison and that I believe we send too many people to prison. However, regular readers will also know that I believe that we send the wrong people to prison and that people who are dangerous and/or violent should be put behind bars.
The Government must give the powers to the courts to back up the hard work done by the police. It is my opinion that the minimum sentence for those who are carrying a weapon and cannot demonstrate a lawful excuse (this would be a special defence that could be lodged in court) should be five years in custody. This, along with the work done by the police, could help to combat the problem.
Education is also key, but as that doesn’t form part of the legal system in the sense of the Criminal Law, it falls out with the scope of this blog entry.