Police have been instructed not to pursue young knife suspects.
Despite overwhelming backing, ministers have rejected plans to allow police to stop and search young knife carriers, according to the Daily Express.
Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) for anyone over 12 were backed by the majority of those who responded to a government consultation circulated to police, communities, and criminal justice professionals. Thames Valley, West Midlands, Merseyside, and Sussex police agencies are piloting court orders that give officers unprecedented authority to target convicted knife and weapons offenders. Sixty-four percent of the 458 people who responded believed they should apply to anyone over the age of twelve who was discovered with a knife. Twenty-one percent believe they should have an impact on people aged 14 and up.
Only 14.6 percent agreed with the government that SVROs should only be used by adults.
“While we believe that an SVRO will have an essential deterrent effect, assisting an offender to remove themselves from and resist pressure to carry weapons, we are not currently proposing to extend the SVRO concept to apply to under-18s,” according to a Home Office consultation document.
“The research shows that the peak age for knife carrying is 14-15 years old, and the Government is determined to examining all alternatives to help prevent these children from being exploited by crime gangs,” it stated, adding that ministers would keep it under review.
Those who supported SVROs for both minors and adults highlighted that “there appears to be a preponderance in young individuals under 18 carrying bladed articles, particularly those aged 16 and 17 years old,” according to the report.
“By stopping and searching offenders in this age bracket, they claimed, the police would be able to target a cohort that is involved in knife crime, according to sentencing data,” it stated.
“Whether favorable or critical, several of the comments mentioned the ‘displacement effect’ of adults transferring their weapons to others (especially children) if they are exposed to an SVRO, which might lead to minors being criminalized.”
In the same research, ministers rejected ideas to expand SRVOs to all violent criminals, despite the fact that 55 percent of respondents favored the idea.
They said it was not “acceptable” for “individuals who have not committed an offense involving the carriage or use of a weapon.”
“We believe that expanding SVROs to any offence involving violence would be too broad, as it might lead to a person being stopped and searched for a weapon,” the Home Office stated.