Pupils guilty of possessing knives fare worst in GCSEs
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.