help reduce knife violence on our streets
According to the Home Office
A range of tough new powers to fight gun and knife crime take effect 1st October.
The new anti-crime measures tighten the rules on possessing imitation guns and air rifles, and the sale of knives.
Imitation guns feature in a significant number of crimes each year - in 2005-06 more than 3,000 crimes involved imitation weapons, accounting for 15% of all firearms offences. In 2006-07 that figure decreased to 2,493 crimes, representing a significant decrease. These measures are designed to help lower that figure even further this year.
Air rifles are also too prevalent in society, and were used in more than 10,000 crimes in 2005-06, resulting in more than 1,100 injuries. The new rules restrict the sale of air rifles to licensed firearms dealers. Police will be able to withdraw a seller's licence if they violate age restrictions and other rules designed to keep neighbourhoods safe.
Records of sales of air rifles will now have to be kept - thus removing the protection of anonymity from purchasers, and deterring casual or irresponsible purchasers. This protects the public, while still allowing young people to use air weapons under controlled conditions, or at approved shooting clubs.
In addition, young people between the ages of 10 and 17 account for 20% of those convicted of carrying knives. The new knife laws are intended to make it harder for children and teenagers to get their hands on illegal knives by raising the minimum age for knife buyers.
Key changes coming into force next week include:
* making it illegal to manufacture, import or sell realistic imitation guns
* making it illegal to sell an imitation gun or a knife or an air rifle to anyone younger than 18 years old
* making it an offence to modify an imitation gun to make it realistic or convertible into a real firearm
* doubling the maximum sentence for carrying an imitation gun in public, to a year's imprisonment
* allowing air rifles to be sold only by registered firearms dealers
* police can now apply for a fast-track review of an alcohol licence if they feel a venue is associated with serious crime and disorder, and they can impose immediate conditions on the licence holder while the review is underway
* making it illegal to sell a crossbow to anyone under 18 years old
Sending a strong signal
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the new measures send a strong signal to criminals that weapons will not be tolerated on UK streets.
'Tackling gun and knife crime is a top priority for this government. It is essential that we build on the tools and powers that police already have in order to make people feel safer and more secure,' she said.
Pointing out that the new provisions increase the age from which young people can purchase items that could be used as weapons, she said 'We are determined to prevent young people obtaining knives by raising the age from 16 to 18. We are also determined to crack down on criminals who use realistic imitation firearms to threaten and intimidate people.'
All the new measures are part of the Violent Crime Reduction Act, and received royal assent in November 2006. For more information, download and read the full Violent Crime Reduction Act (new window).
1. Knife crime needs to dramatically reduced
2. Tougher measures need to be taken
3. Youths today need to be more aware