Nearly a third of knife criminals in Suffolk have offended before
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Almost a third of criminals convicted of knife crime offences in Suffolk had previously been caught carrying a blade, new figures have revealed.
Data published by the Ministry of Justice shows that 190 people were cautioned or convicted for knife crime offences in the 12 months to June this year.
Of these, 56 (30%) had at least one previous offence for carrying a knife - with ten having three or more past offences. The figure has increased since 2014-15, when 33 out 148 (22%) prosecuted had previous convictions.
Patrick Green from anti-knife charity the Ben Kinsella Trust described the figures as ‘deeply depressing’.
“This indicates we cannot rely solely on enforcement if we are going to tackle the small but significant numbers of habitual offenders,” he said.
“These are people who are stuck in a spiral of violent crime.”
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said the key to tackling reoffending was giving those convicted a light at the end of the tunnel and prospects for the future.
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He said “We do have the rate of incidents of violent crime going up in the last couple of years which is significant.
“Enforcement is important, but that is reactive rather than proactive. I think we need to look carefully at how we rehabilitate people who receive these convictions so they do not get involved in it again.
“There’s an educational side to it, helping people to make the right choices in life.
“But if they don’t have prospects and cannot work they may get disillusioned and go back to stage one.”
Superintendent Kerry Cutler said: “The issue of reoffending remains a problem across a range of serious violent offences in Suffolk.
“We work in close partnership with other agencies to disrupt the activities of criminal groups operating in the county who may carry knives.
“Suffolk Constabulary also work with schools and colleges to educate on the dangers of carrying a knife.
“There is a revitalised programme of officers in place delivering knife crime awareness messages alongside advice and guidance to children and young people across the county.
“Officers work hard with knife crime suspects when there are in police custody to raise their awareness of the criminal justice and personal consequences of carrying a weapon.
“We also signpost offenders to drug and alcohol abuse services that may assist with some of the underlying issues that are often involved.”