Pupils guilty of pos­sess­ing knives fare worst in GCSEs

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Jamie Gri­er­son

Teenagers who have been con­victed of car­ry­ing a knife achieve poorer re­sults at GCSE or equiv­a­lent level com­pared not just with the en­tire pupil pop­u­la­tion but also with other types of of­fend­ers, of­fi­cial analysis has re­vealed.

Just un­der 50% of young of­fend­ers who have com­mit­ted knife-pos­ses­sion of­fences at­tained five or more GCSEs at A* to G grade, com­pared with 90% of all pupils, just over 60% of all of­fend­ers and 55% of theft of­fend­ers, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Min­istry of Jus­tice and De­part­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion. The study also found that more than 40% of knife-pos­ses­sion of­fend­ers were el­i­gi­ble for free school meals, com­pared with 15% of all pupils, just un­der 35% of all of­fend­ers and just over 35% of theft of­fend­ers.

The study, based on a group of pupils in Eng­land who reached the end of key stage 4 in 2012-13, aims to pro­vide greater in­sight into the back­grounds of of­fend­ers. But it made clear that it did not im­ply a link be­tween ed­u­ca­tional out­comes and of­fend­ing.

The study also re­vealed that cases of per­sis­tent ab­sence and tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent ex­clu­sions from school among those with knife-pos­ses­sion of­fences was greater than among all com­par­i­son groups. Eighty-three per cent of knife-pos­ses­sion of­fend­ers were per­sis­tently ab­sent from school in at least one of the five aca­demic years from 2008-09 to 2012-13, com­pared with 82% of theft of­fend­ers and 78% of all of­fend­ers.

A sep­a­rate batch of Min­istry of Jus­tice fig­ures re­vealed that in the year end­ing in March, the jus­tice sys­tem dealt with 21,045 knife and of­fen­sive weapon of­fences – the high­est num­ber since the year end­ing March 2012.

There has been a surge in knife and gun crime this year, par­tic­u­larly in Lon­don. The for­mer home sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd launched a se­ri­ous vi­o­lence strat­egy in April amid con­tro­versy over the po­ten­tial link be­tween dwin­dling po­lice num­bers and the rise in crime. The strat­egy is to be backed by £40m of Home Office fund­ing and a new of­fen­sive weapons bill to ban the sale of cor­ro­sive liq­uids to un­der­18s and tighten re­stric­tions on buy­ing knives on­line.

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