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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Stabbings spark Home Office talks
John Reid
Campaigners have urged John Reid to take action over knife crime
Home Secretary John Reid is holding talks with his ministerial team to discuss the issue of knife crime after a number of high-profile stabbings.

It comes amid speculation that Mr Reid was considering increasing the jail term for those caught carrying a knife from two to five years.

The Home Office said no decision had been taken, but confirmed sentences for knife offences would be looked at.

It said: "We always keep offensive weapon legislation under review."

Reports have suggested the government could attempt to make a late amendment to the Violent Crime Reduction Bill as it goes through the House of Lords.

The fact is the government have voted against us when we tried to raise the maximum sentence for carrying a knife
David Davis

A Home Office spokesman said: "The government has promised to look at sentencing for knife offences again before the report stage of the Violent Crime Reduction Bill in the Lords.

"No decision has been made on that."

The Violent Crime Reduction Bill will, as it stands, raise the minimum age for buying knives from 16 to 18.

However, campaigners are keen for it to go much further.

There have been calls for mandatory five year prison sentences for those caught carrying knives without reasonable excuse.

'Managing headlines'

The Conservatives have backed calls for a more stringent approach.

They have vowed to introduce an amendment - raising the maximum jail sentence for knife carrying to five years - to the Violent Crime Reduction Bill, in a bid to get tougher penalties on the statute book.

"The fact is the government have voted against us when we tried to raise the maximum sentence for carrying a knife," said shadow home secretary David Davis.

"We hope they will take the opportunity, in the Violent Crime Reduction Bill, to toughen up sentences by backing the Conservative amendment which would do exactly that.

"At the moment they seem more concerned with managing headlines."


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