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Only one in four knife criminals face immediate prison sentence in West Mercia, figures reveal

By Mat Growcott | Crime | Published:

Only one in four knife criminals in West Mercia face an immediate prison sentence, new figures reveal.

In 2018, 261 people were cautioned or convicted by West Mercia Police for possession of a knife or offensive weapon, or threatening with a knife, according to Ministry of Justice data.

Of those, just 68 – or 26 per cent – received an immediate prison sentence.

In 49 cases knife criminals were handed a community order, 42 offenders were given a suspended sentence and a further 42 were given a fine or discharged from court without a sentence.

West Mercia Police also cautioned 60 people for knife crime offences.

The proportion of knife criminals in West Mercia being sent to prison dropped, from 34 per cent in 2017.

Today the policing lead for Shropshire said the force was not being complacent over knife crime, especially in Telford.

Chief superintendent Kevin Purcell said: "Ultimately, sentences handed at court are a matter for the judge.

"Our absolute priority is protecting our communities from harm and while we are fortunate in Shropshire that we do not experience the same levels of knife crime as experienced in other towns and cities, we are not complacent and a lot of work is on-going, in particular in Telford, to keep the number of knife related incidents low.”

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In West Mercia last year, one in seven criminals cautioned or convicted were children.

Of the 261, 68 were re-offenders and 12 had been cautioned or convicted three times or more.

The number of knife criminals being dealt with overall by West Mercia Police fell by 14 per cent since 2017.

Across the border, almost two in five knife criminals face immediate prison sentence in the Dyfed-Powys police area.

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In 2018, 120 people were cautioned or convicted for knife crime. Of those, 45 received an immediate prison sentence.

In 27 cases knife criminals were handed a community order, 21 offenders were given a suspended sentence and a further 16 were given a fine or discharged from court without a sentence.

Across England and Wales, the percentage of offenders getting immediate custody for knife crimes decreased slightly to 34 per cent in 2018.

Justice minister Rory Stewart said: "Knife crime destroys lives and shatters communities, and this government is doing everything in its power to tackle its devastating consequences.

"Sentences for those carrying knives are getting tougher - they are more likely to be sent straight to prison, and for longer - than at any time in the last decade."

In the 12 months to March last year, the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales reached the highest level since records started, more than 70 years ago.

Last year also saw the highest number of cautions or convictions for possession or threatening offences in almost a decade.

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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