One in five of knife criminals are children
AFIFTH of criminals convicted or cautioned for knife offences in Greater Manchester are children, new analysis reveals.
Ministry of Justice data shows that Greater Manchester Police prosecuted 869 people in the 12 months to June, either for possession of a knife as a weapon or threatening someone with one.
Of those 170, or 20 per cent, were aged between 10 and 17.
That number has increased by 55pc since 2015, when 110 children were charged.
Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said the figures were ‘deeply depressing’ and showed enforcement cannot prevent knife crime on its own.
“This indicates we cannot rely solely on enforcement if we are going to tackle the small but significant number of habitual reoffenders.
“These are people who are stuck in a spiral of violent crime.”
Mr Green said taking a public health approach, which is beginning to be adopted in some parts of the country, could start to tackle the ‘underlying causes of knife crime’.
Of the total number of knife offenders, 204, or 24pc, had at least one previous caution or conviction for carrying a knife, and 26 of the criminals had three or more past offences.
Across England and Wales the number of reoffenders increased by 35pc over the last three years.
Mr Green continued: “I’m confident that a public health approach will work, it will stop the next youngsters getting caught in the cycle of violent crime.
“It won’t work immediately, but given time, as we’ve seen in Glasgow and US cities, if it’s properly funded it can be successful.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said preventing youngsters from carrying knives requires help through education and the community, as well as the police.
A spokesman explained: “The rise in the number of children and young people who are being charged is a concern and preventing young people from carrying knives is not something that police forces can do alone – it requires a whole system approach.
“We are working with schools, charities and community schemes to educate young people and explain why carrying a knife is never the right choice.”
Overall 14pc more people were successfully prosecuted by Greater Manchester Police with knife offences in 201718, compared with the previous 12 months. Of those 816 were for possession of a knife, and 59 for making threats with a knife.
A total of 324 offenders were sent to prison, 197 were given community orders and 95 received a caution.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman explained that the proportion of knife offences resulting in a caution across England and Wales was at its lowest level ever.
She said: “Through the government’s Serious Violence Strategy we are working to prevent young people from ever picking up a knife in the first place and our latest figures show we are catching and prosecuting more of those carrying a blade, and sending them to prison for longer.”
Ministry of Justice data revealed one-in-five of criminals convicted or cautioned for knife offences were children