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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May 2008, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Under 18s face knife prosecution
By Hannah Morrison
Newsbeat reporter

Gordon Brown is planning to get tougher on teenagers caught with knives in England and Wales.

The government is launching a new anti-knife campaign

At the moment anyone carrying a blade under-18 only gets a caution.

The Prime Minister wants to change that so 16 and 17-year-olds are prosecuted and end up in court.

Newsbeat talked to young people in Cardiff about the plans.

I reckon anyone should be locked up if they're carrying a knife or any weapon - even if they're under 16
Amy and Annabelle, 15, from Cardiff
You don't hear many news stories about knife crime in the Welsh capital but it didn't take long to find teenagers who experienced it every day.

17-year-old Jason said: "I get threatened with it all the time.

"It was the other week actually where I got a knife held to me. It was like a fair size kitchen knife."

Jason said he'd never carry one but knows a lot of people his age who do.

He said: "They're all very aggressive and got a reputation to hold and think if you don't have a knife you're not cool and stuff. I got a lot of people I know like that."

Adults can be charged for carrying a knife in England and Wales but 16 and 17-year-olds are let off with a caution.

Victim of knife crime
The Home Office's viral video shows various types of knife wound
The Prime Minister has decided that's sending out the wrong message.

So the penalty is going to be harsher now - prosecution in the courts.

This is in line with what Scotland does already.

Walking down the road, hood up, is Kai, another 17-year-old who admitted he and his mates take knives with them some times.

"Mostly kitchen knives, that's what you can get. If I'm going to certain neighbourhoods yeah I would, neighbourhoods that I'm known from. Just for protection."

Kai says that he's not put off by the threat of going to court.

He said: "Not really. It doesn't matter like. I think they should let the young people explain themselves, why they're carrying it, what makes them carry a knife.

"Most of the time they think they're going to commit a crime but most people just carry it for protection."

Stabbing figures

The amount of people killed in stabbings hasn't actually gone up over the last decade, it has stayed stable.

But the average age of the victims is getting younger.

Amy and Annabelle, both 15 years old, said the government needs to go even further and prosecute everyone found with a knife - even under-16s.

This person's thumb was cut off in a knife attack
Shocking images are being used to show what knives can do
"I was there before when someone got stabbed in my area. There was a fight and then someone pulled out a knife and just stabbed him.

"If there's a chance of them going to prison they aren't going to like carry them are they?"

"I reckon anyone should be locked up if they're carrying a knife or any weapon - even if they're under 16 because I reckon they're carrying knives because they know they won't get in trouble."

To try to stop young people carrying knives, the government has released a series of real life images of stab wounds.

The It Doesn't Have To Happen campaign comes after a series of fatal stabbings around the UK.

Images and video clips are being put up on social networking sites like Bebo and adverts featuring families of victims are going out on radio.

In the last month two teenagers, Lyle Tulloch and Rob Knox, have been killed in separate stabbings.

Viral campaign

The Government's spending 3m on the campaign to show the real damage that knives can do.

A lot of the ideas were thought up by teenagers.

The first part of the three-year campaign will use newspaper and radio adverts, as well as two internet videos.

One shows CCTV footage, performed by actors, of a boy being stabbed on a high street.

The adverts will be distributed through social networking websites like Bebo and on mobiles.

Campaigners will also hand out postcards showing a the mutilated hand to young people on the street.

We spoke to Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker who explained how this campaign differs from previous ones.

He said: "It's young people. They came up with the idea that you need to show and demonstrate to young people the very real consequences of a knife when it's used. The horrific injuries, the scars that can be left."



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