UK Politics

Knife crime law: Up to 400 more teenagers face custody

As many as 400 extra teenagers could be given custodial sentences every year because of changes to knife crime laws announced last week, according to a government impact assessment.

The government is amending the Legal Aid & Sentencing bill to require a minimum sentence of a four-month Detention and Training Order for 16 and 17-year-olds convicted of threatening people with knives.

The Ministry of Justice assessment says 30 to 60 extra beds would be needed in secure accommodation for young people.

Their report says between 200 to 400 more 16 and 17-year-olds will receive custodial sentences every year at an annual cost of between £2m and £4m a year.

The assessment says this estimate is "based on strong assumptions, around which there is some uncertainty" and warns it should be treated as illustrative.

Last year 12% of offences for possession of a knife or offensive weapon resulted in a custodial sentence for 16 and 17-year-olds, 276 people in total.

Last week the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the government should increase the number of prison places if mandatory sentencing policies meant more people were sent to jail.

He said "the government has to allocate the resources" if there was a need for more places.

Ministers agreed to give mandatory sentences to 16 and 17-year-olds convicted of threatening with knifes after pressure from Conservative backbenchers.

More on this story