Page last updated at 06:38 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 07:38 UK

New tougher stance on knife crime

The sentence for carrying a knife has doubled

Tough new measures to reduce knife crime have come into effect Northern Ireland.

The sentence for anyone caught carrying a knife has doubled from two to four years.

There are also more powers to punish sex offenders who breach their licence conditions and tougher traffic offences to curb reckless driving.

"Public protection is at the forefront of these further reforms," said Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins.

"These new powers send out a clear message that society will not tolerate those who continue to break the law and make life intolerable for their communities.

"The introduction and commencement of these new powers will strengthen and enhance public protection arrangements."

Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins speaking about the new measures

Mr Goggins added: "Whilst the level of knife crime in Northern Ireland is not as high as it is in other parts of the UK, the harm caused to victims and their families can be devastating.

"We should all work together to make it clear that carrying a knife is against the law, carries stiff penalties and could be lethal."

Maximum penalties available to the courts will double for those who carry knives and offensive weapons in a public place including school premises.

The new powers will also see the maximum penalties for the illegal manufacture and sale of knives increased to four years' imprisonment, and penalties for the possession of offensive weapons will also increase.

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