Tougher laws pledged to tackle violent crime - The Evesham Observer

Tougher laws pledged to tackle violent crime

Evesham Editorial 27th Jul, 2018   0

POLICE chiefs have been promised tougher legislation to deal with violent crimes after a Government committee heard children as young as 10 years old were committing acts of violence.

Evesham’s MP Nigel Huddleston made the vow after hearing the shocking evidence during a public bill committee session to examine the Government’s proposed Offensive Weapons Bill.

Such committees scrutinise proposed acts of Parliament and members sit for lengthy sessions during which they question expert witnesses and discuss the bill line by line.

The Offensive Weapons Bill is part of a wider Serious Violence Strategy to tackle the recent rise in serious crime and will make it harder than ever before for people to get their hands on dangerous weapons.

Possession of certain offensive weapons and corrosive substances such as acid, as well as strengthening restrictions on the sale of bladed and corrosive products, will also form part of the bill.

During a series sessions last week Mr Huddleston heard evidence from a range of organisations including local councils, victim support groups, firearms experts, representatives for traders and retailers, the National Crime Agency and the National Police Chiefs Council.

Committee members heard witness testimony about how 25 per cent of knife crime last year could be attributed to gangs and children as young as just 10 or 11 are not only carrying knives, but actually perpetrating acts of violence with them too.

Children at school are carrying acid and teenagers have been caught carrying out what one witness termed ‘a spree of attacks’ in a very short space of time.

In terms of gangs, the committee heard while the majority do still tend to be men, gangs are now recruiting increasing numbers of women and young girls and are targeting children who have been excluded from school.

Mr Huddleston probed witnesses on issues including effective intervention, the demographics of perpetrators of knife crime including age and gender, and the effectiveness of current legal tests in place for offences including threatening with an offensive weapon.

“This is an incredibly important bill and the restrictions it introduces are sadly urgently needed given the recent increase in violent crime across the country. Some of the evidence we have heard so far is shocking, including the fact that children of primary school age are carrying around offensive weapons and using them to commit violent acts,” he said.

“It is crucial, therefore, we get this bill right and I take very seriously my responsibility as a member of the committee to scrutinise every aspect of the bill and ensure we pass a piece of legislation which can be effective in protecting the public and providing the police with the powers they need to effectively tackle serious violence.”

The committee will resume its sessions after MPs return from their summer recess in September.


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