You face a longer sentence for not paying your tv licence than carrying a knife. Should sentences be longer?

Knife crime is a topic that has now sadly become the norm. What was once a topic that shocked most people, now is integrated in our society as heartbreaking as it may seem.

Today former Met Chief Inspector Peter Kirkham, speaks to the Havering Daily about sentences for those carrying knives. Should they face longer sentences?

There definitely needs to be a deterrent to stop people from carrying knives. However, the sentence deterrent needs to be addressed in a variety of ways.

Firstly we need to protect the public from those who choose to carry a knife. So putting them behind bars gets them away from the public and keeps our society safe. However, at some point they will be released. Currently the maximum penalty for carrying a knife is four years, so with a plea of guilty this sentence could be cut to two years.

So just sticking the offenders behind bars and not doing anything else with them is only a short term solution and not an answer to the problem.

The second aspect is the length of the sentence. Does that deter people from carrying knives. A longer sentence certainly can have an impact.

Last year we saw a serious spate of acid attacks, either on foot or those using a moped and throwing acid. The court saw the seriousness of these attacks and started handing out longer sentences to offenders. Sentences of ten years and upwards. So low and behold the acid attack craze was stopped.

Hence the longer sentences are a deterrent. But all these need to work together with other aspects.

‘The third point to look at is punishment. Is going to prison going to be a punishment for them because if the offender feels that they have nothing to lose in regards to no job, no education, a messed up home life. Then prison often doesn’t phase them.

Lastly, the fourth point and one of the most important is the rehabilitation of the offender. We must use every minute we have with that offender to help them better their life and stop them from re-offending.

Let’s look at the issues why they are offending and address them. At the moment we aren’t trying anything and aren’t doing anything to help stop them from re-offending. If they are there for three months, lets get them educated. In three months they can get a basic qualification under their belt.

Get them into a routine, getting up and getting their breakfast then going to work be it either in education or addressing mental health issues, whatever they need to help them go straight. Prison is not about humiliating them but about stopping them from re-offending. It should be hard work and they should be used to a work ethic.

At the moment we are just warehousing them, rehabilitation is about putting things right. Sentences do need to be harder as currently you face a longer sentence for not paying your television licence than carrying a knife.’

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