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Knives still out in Coalition sentencing fight

12 May 2014

What will become of the other big coalition row that’s burning away alongside free schools? David Cameron was asked today about the plans to introduce mandatory sentences for repeat knife offences, and made some very supportive noises again, which the Tories signed up to Nick de Bois’ amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill think is a sign that they’ve made the right decision. He suggested that Nick Clegg could change his mind about it – and some have taken this as a sign that there’s a compromise on the cards.

The Conservatives tell me they are ‘looking carefully’ at de Bois’ amendments, but the Lib Dems say they haven’t heard of any compromise being offered and they will only accept a deal that has evidence behind it that it would cut knife crime. A senior Lib Dem source says:

‘Everybody opposes knife crime. Who is in favour of knife crime? Which party says we want to see more knife crime? What is going on here is a discussion about public policy and how you make public policy, the aim of any policy would be that it would reduce knife crime. In our view we don’t believe the mandatory custodial sentence for possession of a knife would work.’

The amendment won’t be debated until after the Queen’s Speech – and while there are around 45 MPs backing it at the moment, if the government decides it can’t support the plan, the whips will find it very easy to melt away the rebels: they can always mention that the Prime Minister has got another reshuffle planned.

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Show comments
  • Jez

    The problem with fashionable custodial sentences when applied to sub culture; this becomes a badge of status to be sought.

    • Colonel Mustard

      It also collides with the fact that prisons are short of over 9,000 places.

  • Smithersjones2013

    the whips will find it very easy to melt away the rebels: they can
    always mention that the Prime Minister has got another reshuffle

    Well that doesn’t say very much for what Izzy clearly considers a spineless and self-serving Tory Party who would sell their principles for personal gain. What a sad indictment of the Tory party.

  • fundamentallyflawed

    A knife is easily concealed and can cause massive damage, if not death in a short space of time.. Anyone carrying a knife with intent to assault or threaten or using a knife illegally should face maximum penalties including mandatory custodial sentences. It may not lower knife crime figures and I believe rehabilitation should be a cornerstone of the penal system but protection of citizens should take priority in these cases.

    • Colonel Mustard

      If it might not lower knife crime figures what is the point of it? Politicians should stay out of the courtroom. Every case should be judged and sentenced on its own circumstances. Judges must retain discretion. Token law imposed to show that politicians are “doing something” or to “send a message” is usually bad law.

      Also the current offence is not predicated on proving intent to assault or threaten but puts the onus on the offender to demonstrate “lawful authority or reasonable excuse” for carrying the knife in the first place.

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