Cash boost to fight knife crime
By Jimmy Burns
Published: February 18 2008 01:02 | Last updated: February 18 2008 01:02
Police are to be given more money for metal-detecting equipment to curb the use of knives by teenagers as part of the latest government strategy for tackling violent crime, Jacqui Smith, home secretary, said on Sunday.
The strategy, to be announced in full on Monday , includes a renewed focus on tackling alcohol-related crime, increased action to protect the victims of sexual violence and improved co-ordination in the management of local offenders by the courts and local services.
Ms Smith told the BBC that she also wanted to see that tougher sentences were enforced for those found carrying knives in public, an act that usually leaves a suspect with only a caution.
“We are looking at ensuring that if you are caught with a knife, the maximum sentences we are putting in place are likely to be given and you are likely to be prosecuted,” Ms Smith said.
Separately, Ms Smith announced that parents were to be given new rights to check with police whether people given regular unsupervised access to their children had convictions for paedophilia.
The scheme will be piloted in four police areas: Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Cleveland and Warwickshire. If successful, it will be rolled out across the country.
Ms Smith detailed the scheme in an article for the News of the World, which has conducted a long-running campaign for a “Sarah’s law” allowing parents to obtain details of convicted paedophiles living in their neighbourhoods.
Responding to concerns of vigilantism being fuelled by the scheme, Ms Smith said it would be carefully controlled to ensure it was not abused by the media or the public, or used to persecute potentially innocent people.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, accused Ms Smith of “belatedly papering over the cracks of an enormous problem of the government’s own making”.