'Citizens are sick of seeing soft sentencing': MPs debate petition to jail anyone found carrying a knife
PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:09 26 March 2019
Politicians yesterday afternoon debated a petition signed by more than 10,000 people in Havering to guarantee prison for at least 10 years for anyone found carrying a knife, and for anyone who stabs someone to get a minimum of 25 years behind bars.
The petition was signed by 106,884 people in total, and of the total, 10,365 were from Havering - which was the highest amount of any local authority all over the country.
Figures show that 3,601 people from Andrew Rosindell’s Romford constituency, 4,390 people from Julia Lopez’s Hornchurch and Upminster constituency and 2,374 from Jon Cruddas’s Dagenham and Rainham constituency all signed the e-petition.
Both Mr Rosindell, and Mrs Lopez spoke at the debate yesterday (Monday, March 25).
Speaking in Westminster Hall, Mr Rosindell said: “However, the figures reveal why the public still have little or no faith in our justice system.
“As it stands, two thirds of those carrying a knife escape a custodial sentence, and one-in-five repeat offenders avoid prison.
“People are frankly fed up with soft sentencing, and it is quite clear why.
“In Havering, knife offences have doubled since 2014, with 339 recorded cases last year alone. Although we are a Greater London borough, we are really in Essex, on the outer edges of London.
“We hear about this kind of crime in city centres, but in areas like ours we are not used to it. It has come as a terrible shock that these crimes are coming out as far as areas like ours, and indeed further afield.
“We must smash the myth on some estates that carrying a knife is a normal thing to do, and we should take a long hard look at compulsory custodial sentences for knife crimes.
“Law-abiding citizens, fearful for their children when they walk home from school or simply relax in a park with their friends, are sick of seeing soft sentencing for knife offenders.”
Mrs Lopez also spoke at Westminster Hall and added: “It is perhaps no surprise that my constituency topped the signature count for this petition, with the other two Havering constituencies not far behind.
“Three weeks ago, Hornchurch and Upminster saw the brutal and utterly senseless murder of 17-year-old Jodie Chesney in a Harold Hill park.
“We have heard this afternoon from my honorary friend the member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) just how badly that has affected the community.
“The community response to Jodie’s murder has been profound, with marches and memorials, purple ribbons tied to trees, railings and lampposts in tribute to her, and a community vigil in Harold Hill.
“We have been here before when it comes to knife crime and we know what works.
“Criminals need to know that our attempts to understand their path to violence will be complemented with a hard-nosed intolerance of the mindless destruction they mete out.
“One reason why my constituents support tougher knife sentencing is that people believe it is time we showed that communities are back within our control, and a key part of that will be taking criminals off the streets, but that is not solution enough.
“I would be grateful for the minister’s assurances that knife crime will be the subject of relentless political focus, so that in criminal justice, education, policing and community outreach, we get the system firing on every cylinder.”
If a petition gains more than 10,000 signatures, the Government will respond, and if it gets more than 100,000 signatures,it will be considered for debate in Parliament.
Previously a spokesman from the Ministry of Justice replied to the petition, and said: “Conviction of a knife or offensive weapon offence – threatening or possession - is now more likely to result in some form of custodial sentence, and for longer than at any point in the last ten years.”