Home Office launch new Knife Crime Prevention Orders
This August, the Home Office have announced that young people as young as 12 may face Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) under the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. Police, magistrate and youth courts will be issued with new powers to impose geographical restrictions, curfews and prevent people suspected of carrying knives from associating with certain people.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel has claimed that the KCPOs will “stop acids and knives making their way onto our streets and being used to carry out horrifying attacks” (BBC News, 2019). However, human rights groups including The Runnymede Trust, Liberty and the Children's Society have raised concerns over what will be deemed a sufficient standard of proof required to impose an order (The Independent, 2019) and Sarah Jones MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime, said KCPOs risk "criminalising a generation of young people who have grown up unsupported and who often turn to carrying weapons out of fear" (ibid).
Ultimately, the new orders are yet another example of the government's counterproductive "law and order" measures which unnecessarily criminalise young people, without addressing the root causes of increased violence. Furthermore, if we consider KCPOs in the context of other recent criminal justice measures such as increased stop and search powers for police, increased prison places and harsher sentencing, it is likely that young Black people will be particularly impacted, as they are already disproportionately represented at almost all levels of the criminal justice system.
Rosalind Comyn, the policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, succinctly explained, “These misguided proposals allow the police to impose punitive conditions on people’s everyday activities, based on mere hearsay evidence. People who are unable to meet these onerous conditions could face up to two years in prison. Far from addressing the root causes of knife crime, by marginalising and criminalising more young people, this order will likely exacerbate them” (Townsend, 2019).
BBC News. (2019). Knife crime curfew plan for 12 year olds. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49395029 [Accessed 6 Sep. 2019].
The Independent. (2019). Courts to get anti-knife crime powers with Asbo-style orders for children as young as 12. [online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/knife-crime-orders-home-office-priti-patel-asbo-curfews-offensive-weapons-act-a9063976.html [Accessed 6 Sep. 2019].
Townsend, M. (2019). Sajid Javid’s new knife crime laws ‘will criminalise the young’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/24/sajid-javid-youth-knife-crime-orders-human-rights-fears [Accessed 6 Sep. 2019].