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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 13:35 GMT
Plan for weapons searches in pubs
Man holding a knife
The Home Office says it wants to reduce violent crime
Pubs and clubs identified as trouble spots could be forced to search customers for knives and weapons, under new Home Office proposals.

The idea is among measures for reducing violent crime announced by the home secretary on Wednesday.

Police would be given powers to force places with a history of disorder to search people for banned weapons.

David Blunkett also formally revealed plans to raise the age at which people can legally buy knives from 16 to 18.

The government is committed to action, particularly through our strategy on violent crime, to help build safe and secure communities
Home Secretary David Blunkett

In a statement, Mr Blunkett said the government was "seriously considering" strengthening the law to help get knives off our streets.

"Bringing in a ban on under-18s buying knives - as at present with alcohol and fireworks - will play a key part in this, as will action by Education Secretary Charles Clarke on tackling knives in schools," he said.

The government has already said schools could be given powers to search pupils for weapons.

"Working together with the police and community groups, the government is committed to action, particularly through our strategy on violent crime, to help build safe and secure communities," Mr Blunkett said.

The Home Office will consult with retailers and police on the proposal to extend the ban on the sale of knives.

Metal scanner

The Home Office has rejected calls made earlier this week for the introduction of a five-year minimum sentence for people caught carrying knives.

Mr Blunkett also announced measures to include as banned weapons other implements police say are used in street fights, such as potato peelers or penknives.

Man walks through Hammersmith metal detectors
Police are trialling different tactics to combat knife crime

The Home Office said Mr Blunkett would "seriously consider" a proposal to require licensed premises to search customers before letting them in, or install airport-style security systems.

A metal scanner, based on technology used in prisons, was trialled last week at Hammersmith Bus Garage, in west London, as part of Scotland Yard's anti-knife crime scheme, Operation Blunt.

The site was chosen because of the number of public disorder offences occurring there and the influx of people from across London who use the station daily.

Commander Simon Foy, leading the operation, said police would now focus on educating teenagers on the dangers of carrying knives.

"The Met is saying enough is enough. There is an unacceptable level of knife-related violence taking place on our streets," he said.


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