Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 18:20 UK

Reaction to knife crime proposals

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The father of a 15-year-old killed in London on the battle against youth knife crime

Anyone aged over 16 who is found carrying a knife could be prosecuted under new police guidelines. Leading figures give their reaction to the change of approach.

MARK PRINCE, FATHER OF MURDERED TEENAGER KIYAN PRINCE

It's a good idea. Something has to be seen to be done in that area.

I'm just a little concerned that the main focus isn't being put on helping these kids and trying to educate them.

It's a culture, you can't just put a band-aid on it and everything is going to be alright. It won't be alright just making this law. You have to focus more on helping the young children.

The government needs to....go into schools, work with the young people, educate them and actually see what the real problems are.

And then you can actually begin to break down this culture.

PROFESSOR ROD MORGAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN YOUTH JUSTICE BOARD

I am afraid this is an example of gesture politics reflecting the weakness rather than the strength of both the prime minister and the government.

There is no real good sense in suggesting that the guideline be changed. Isn't it odd that last week we had an announcement that four police forces are going in the future to do something called 'commonsense' policing ... that the police were going to exercise their discretion more sensibly as to how events should be dealt with locally, and now we have a suggestion that we have a presumption.

The police have all the powers that they need to deal with what is a problem in some areas but they need to be given discretion to respond to events as they find them.

CINDY BUTTS, DEPUTY CHAIR OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE AUTHORITY

It's not enough, but it is a start and I think it is important we tighten the laws and we send out a very clear message not just to young people themselves, but also the wider community.

I do support this because the increases that we have seen are in the increases from the ages of 13 up until 17 years old. So I think it is important that we target those who are most likely to be carrying and therefore willing to use knives - and I do support it, but it's not enough.

DETECTIVE CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT JOHN CARNOCHAN, HEAD OF VIOLENCE REDUCTION UNIT IN GLASGOW

The notion that criminal justice is the first resort, fill up the prisons, get people to jail, doesn't work on its own.

We need to do other things - if we want to change attitudes, if we want to change culture, that's not a role simply for the police that involves everyone. And that's what we've been doing for the past two or three years, so in Scotland it's now a public health issue.

KIT MALTHOUSE, LONDON'S DEPUTY MAYOR FOR POLICING

We recognise it forms part of treating the symptom not the cause and hope the prime minister and home secretary will support us as we seek to generate the cultural shift required to eradicate the problem long term.





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