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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Knife crime

If you’re worried or concerned about knife crime in your local area or you want to know more about the laws around carrying and buying knives, all the information you need is right here.

What counts as knife crime

‘Knife crime’ is an expression that covers any crime that involves a knife.

This includes:

  • carrying or trying to buy a knife if you’re under 18
  • threatening people with a knife
  • carrying a knife that is banned
  • a murder where the victim was stabbed with a knife
  • a robbery or burglary where the thieves carried a knife as a weapon

Carrying a knife

Crimes involving knives still make up a small percentage of the total crimes committed every year in the UK, but there have been a lot of stories in the news recently where teenagers have been injured or killed by someone using a knife as a weapon.

Some people say that they carry a knife to protect themselves or make themselves feel safer, even though they would never think of using it. But did you know that you’re actually more likely to become a victim of crime if you’re carrying a knife? It could even be used to harm you by someone else.

If you do want to know more about protecting yourself, there are much easier and safer ways to do it.

What are the knife crime laws in the UK?

There are a number of different rules that apply to knives, and although it may not always seem clear what is legal and what isn't, there’s now a set of laws that try to make the rules simpler to understand.

The main things you should be aware of are:

  • it’s illegal to buy most types of knife if you’re under 18
  • anyone over 16 can be charged and taken to court if they’re caught with an illegal knife – even if it’s the first time they’ve been stopped by the police
  • if you're under 16 and are caught carrying a knife, you could receive a community sentence or a detention and training order
  • you could be searched at any time if the police officer or a teacher thinks you may be carrying a knife
  • even if you’re carrying a knife that you’re legally allowed to (like a penknife with a blade that’s shorter than three inches), it becomes illegal if you use it as a weapon to threaten or harm anyone

The maximum sentence for anyone found guilty of carrying an illegal knife is now four years. If you injure someone or use a knife to commit a crime the penalties could be far worse.

What you can do

If you have information about knife crime in your area and you're nervous about going to the police, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They will never ask for your name or try to trace the number that you're calling from.

If you already have a knife and want to get rid of it, you might want to talk to an adult who you trust. They’ll be able to help you find the best way to dispose of it. You might also want to find out when your nearest police station runs a knife amnesty. This means that during the amnesty, you can hand in your unwanted knife without having to answer questions from the police.

There are also a number of local anti-knife crime campaigns run by police authorities and councils that you may want to get involved in. They organise activities to highlight the problem, and talk with people living in the area about how the problem can be tackled.

If you're interested, call in to your nearest police station to find out about groups in your area.

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