More than 50,000 people have signed a petition started by the mother of Harley Barfield calling for anyone caught carrying a knife illegally to be jailed.  

Bernice Barfield set up the petition online just four days ago and wants those unlawfully carrying knives to be given a mandatory two-year prison sentence.

East Anglian Daily Times: Bernice Barfield with her son HarleyBernice Barfield with her son Harley (Image: Suffolk Police) 

Currently carrying a knife illegally is not necessarily punished with jail time.  

Her son Harley was stabbed in Haverhill, Suffolk, on January 9 and died in hospital two days later.

The boy who stabbed him, also 16, was found guilty of murder on November 10 and is due to be sentenced on December 19.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that the boy armed himself with a kitchen knife and lay in wait for Harley, who was going out with his former girlfriend, before confronting him in a “jealous rage” and trying to goad him into a fight near Strasbourg Square in Haverhill on January 9 this year. 

Ms Barfield was overwhelmed by the support for the petition and said: “It’s crazy, it’s gone absolutely mad.

“Getting this into parliament is so important to me and I didn’t expect it to get this mad this quickly. Something needs to be done now.  

“If you’re carrying a knife you’re going equipped to harm or kill and I just want a deterrent to get people putting knives down.”

She added: “My opinion would be a mandatory two-year sentence.

“The number of signatures I’ve got in four days shows how people feel about this and the signatures are coming from all over the UK because this is a nationwide problem.

“My suggestion would be that there is education about knife crime during the sentence and in schools but first we need a deterrent and prevention.”

On the petition website she wrote: “Let's turn our grief into action and ensure no other parent has to endure the pain my family has experienced due to such senseless violence.

"Please sign this petition today and help us bring about much-needed change!”

Harley’s father, Darryl, said he supported the idea and had signed the petition too.

East Anglian Daily Times: Darryl Barfield with his son HarleyDarryl Barfield with his son Harley (Image: Suffolk Police)

Mr Barfield has managed to get a statue made of 100,000 knives known as the Knife Angel to be placed in Haverhill for 30 days in September next year in memory of his son after months of negotiations.

East Anglian Daily Times: The knife statueThe knife statue (Image: Newsquest)

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk Tim Passmore has also lent his support to the petition.

East Anglian Daily Times: Police and Crime Commissioner Tim PassmorePolice and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore (Image: Newsquest)
Mr Passmore said: “We have to do everything we can to stop knife crime and anything that can be done to help with this, including this petition, has my full support.

"I’m not sure what the technicalities of the law are but if this can help tighten up the law and it would help that is certainly something I would support."

Police redoubled their efforts against knife crime last week as part of a national campaign called Operation Sceptre.

Officers have been going to schools to educate children about the dangers of knife crime and checking on shops to make sure knives are being sold safely.

This comes after data was released last month by the Office for National Statistics, which showed a big increase in weapon possession offences year-on-year, with a 16% increase between June 2022 and June 2023, compared to June 2021 to June 2022.

However, the Ministry of Justice has said knife crime offenders are getting longer sentences. 

A government spokesman commented: "Our sympathies remain with the friends and family of Harley Barfield. Knife crime tears families apart and we are committed to addressing the root causes of this violence.

“As a result, more knife-carrying criminals and repeat offenders are being given custodial sentences for longer than they were a decade ago following our action to protect the public and make our streets safer.”

You can sign the petition here but Ms Barfield stressed you must verify your email address in order for the signature to count.

The Ministry of Justice was approached for comment.