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I issued the following press release on 08.02.2006


A nationwide knives amnesty will be held between 24 May and 30 June, the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, announced today, backed up by a tough police enforcement campaign to drive home the message that carrying knives is not acceptable.


Lynne Jones endorsed the drive to tackle knife crime and violence in Birmingham and across the UK.


Lynne Jones MP said:


“This knife amnesty is about creating safer streets throughout Birmingham.  Previous amnesties like this have already taken deadly weapons off the streets.


“Often those who carry a knife or dangerous weapon mistakenly believe they are protecting themselves and have no intention of becoming a murderer – but coupled with drink or drugs these weapons all too often lead to bloodshed.


"Please do the right thing for your community, stop carrying knives and hand any you have over to the police.  Remember this is a chance for you to come clean - but it is only for a limited time.”


The amnesty will target those who carry knives and offensive weapons. A public campaign supporting the amnesty will urge people to hand in their knives during the five week period, when they will be immune from prosecution for possessing them.


The Violent Crime Reduction Bill, currently before Parliament, is strengthening the laws on knives still further, and another meeting of the Home Office round-table focusing on gun, knife and gangs issues will be held in the spring.

Notes to Editors

1.  The amnesty and enforcement campaign will be part of a wide range of actions being taken by Government, the police and community groups to tackle the problems of knife crime, and will build upon other police-led initiatives such as Operation Blunt in the Metropolitan Police and Government work to support local projects that address knife crime through the Connected Fund.


2. Current legislation relating to knives:


·     The Prevention of Crime Act 1953 prohibits the carrying of any offensive weapon in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. A public place includes private premises to which the public have access. An offensive weapon is defined as any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person, or intended by the person for such use. Maximum penalty: six months imprisonment and/or £5000 fine.


·     The Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959 prohibited the manufacture, sale, hire or offer for sale or hire, and importation of flick knives and gravity knives. Maximum penalty: six months imprisonment and/or £5000 fine.


·     The Criminal Justice Act (CJA) 1988 created an offence of having an article with a blade or point in a public place without good reason or lawful excuse. An exemption applies to folding pocket knives with a blade of less than three inches. Maximum penalty: up to two years imprisonment.    


·     CJA 1988 also created a similar offence of having a knife or article with blade on school premises. Maximum penalty: up to four years imprisonment.


·     CJA 1988 also prohibited the manufacture, sale, hire, offer for sale or hire of a range of weapons specified in the Criminal Justice Act (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988. These are mainly items designed to cause serious injury, for example knuckledusters, handclaws and certain martial arts equipment, or those which can be easily concealed, including swordsticks. Maximum penalty: six months imprisonment and/or £5000 fine.


·     Offensive Weapons Act 1996 amended the 1988 Act to prohibit the sale of knives and certain articles with a blade or point to persons under the age of 16. Maximum penalty: six months imprisonment and/or £5000 fine.


·     Knives Act 1997 created offences relating to the unlawful marketing of knives as suitable for combat, or in ways likely to stimulate or encourage violent behaviour. It also extended the power to stop and search in anticipation of violence contained in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Maximum penalty: six months imprisonment and/or £5000 fine.


·     Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, as amended by the Knives Act 1997, contains a power under which an officer of inspector rank or above could, in certain circumstances, authorise police officers within a given area to stop and search for offensive weapons.


5. Provisions relating to knives in the Violent Crime Reduction Bill [see Home Office press notice 088/05] propose to:

·    raise the minimum age at which a young person can buy knife from 16 to 18.

·    introduce a power for head-teachers and other members of staff to search pupils for knives.


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