Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting ENFIELD NEWS to 80360, or email us
New anti-knife crime legislation gives mandatory sentence get-out clause
JUDGES could be given a get-out clause from mandatory sentences for teenagers who carry knives in draft legislation introduced after a campaign by the Enfield Independent.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke caved in to pressure on Wednesday from our Don't Carry, Don't Kill campaign with Enfield North MP Nick de Bois and announced new measures for mandatory four-month custodial sentences for 16 and 17-year-olds who threaten others with a knife.
But the wording of the amendment to legislation – which MPs will rubber-stamp next week – lets judges avoid giving a mandatory sentence if there are “particular circumstances” which make it not right to do so.
The exact wording reads: “Where a person aged 16 or over is convicted of an offence under this section, the court must impose an appropriate custodial sentence (with or without a fine) unless the court is of the opinion that there are particular circumstances which relate to the offence or to the offender, and would make it unjust to do so in all the circumstances.”
This means although judges will be expected to impose a mandatory sentence in normal circumstances, if they can prove it would be unjust to do they can choose not to.
Ministry of Justice figures estimate that up to 400 teenagers could be convicted of an offence under the new legislation that would see them face the new sentence.
Our campaign had won the backing of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, as well anti-gang campaigners, Enfield Council and 700 Enfield residents, who signed a petition demanding action.
The amendment, which will change the law on knife crime sentencing, will be attached to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
The bill already includes six-month mandatory sentences for adults convicted of aggravated knife crime, and will now include at least four months' detention and training for children under 16 for the same crime.