Increasing the maximum sentence to four years for possession of a knife is on the agenda again, but is it just tough talk by this government? Even the youngsters themselves are saying compulsory jail sentences are required. It would appear that cautions are still likely to be administered.
I watched Panorama last night where some young knife offenders spoke honestly about their crimes. They were all behind bars for offences ranging from Murder to GBH. None of them looked happy to be there. Would a mandatory jail sentence for possession of knives deterred some of them from carrying and thus acted as a preventative measure? Only they can say.
I speak as one who used to carry a knife myself as a sixteen year old for a short time. Did you really think Stressedoutcop was the product of a middle class upbringing? I'm not - and am the only male adult in my immediate family who does not have a criminal record. So how did this law abiding person end up with a knife?
I was out with two friends away from our usual area, when we were confronted by a local group of about ten lads. We were not out for trouble, and if we'd had mobile phones or Ipods in those days no doubt we would have been relieved of them. My friends scarpered - I stayed and took a right good beating - it wasn't nice. I think this group were well known locally and arrests were made, but it was squared away as just a fight. You know one onto ten.
I was offered a knife by a friend and for a few weeks afterwards I carried it, just in case. I was young and stupid, but if I'd thought for one minute I'd end up in jail I would never had done so. Things could have turned out differently for me, but I was lucky. If I had got caught, no whinging, you are the driver of your own destiny and take the consequences. So I wouldn't have ended up a policeman and would probably have done a full stint in the military.
Which leads us onto what can and should be done. If the government is going to talk tough re sentencing over knives it must follow through with action. There should be a presumption that a short custodial sentence will be administered, unless exceptional circumstances apply. It will have a massive impact on some youths but eventually the message will get through. You might actually stop a few going onto ruin not just their life but someone else's too.