Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Knife murder sentence to increase

George Kinsella on knife crime

The minimum term for knife murders will increase from 15 to 25 years, the justice secretary has announced.

A review was launched after the parents of stab victim Ben Kinsella called for sentences more in line with the 30 year tariff for murder using a gun.

Jack Straw told MPs "thugs who carry knives with the intention of using them" would face longer terms.

Ben, 16, died after he was stabbed fleeing a fight in Islington, north London, in June last year.

His killers were jailed for life and were all ordered to serve a minimum of 19 years in prison.

Mr Straw said he was writing to the Kinsella family to tell them the outcome of the review.

It is only right that thugs who carry knives with the intention of using them, potentially to kill should the opportunity arise, go to prison for a long time
Jack Straw

He told the House of Commons a statutory instrument introducing the change would be introduced in Parliament and both houses would be able to discuss the proposal before Christmas.

He said there had been "considerable concern" about the 15-year starting point for judges considering the minimum tariff after knife murder convictions.

"I propose to introduce a new adult starting point of 25 years for murder using a knife or other weapon carried to the scene with the intention of use as a weapon," he said.

"I am determined to do everything in my power to tackle the menace of knife crime on our streets," he added.

Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve welcome the increased sentence but suggested that it would be "another empty gesture" without having more police street patrols or enough jail space for those convicted.

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