Knives and other offensive weapons
Knife and offensive weapon offending has a devastating effect on individuals, families and communities. Not all knife and offensive weapon offending is gang related or committed by young people.
Knives may be treated as offensive weapons or dealt with under provisions specific to the carrying of knives.
Knives and other offensive weapons: public interest factors
There is a strong public interest in deterring the carrying and use of knives and other offensive weapons, (see the National Police Chiefs' Council Guidelines on the Investigation, Cautioning and Charging of Knife Crime Offences (2015)).
Where the evidence discloses that the defendant has used a knife to cause injury / threaten violence / cause fear, or has carried a knife in a way which contravenes a possession offence, there will be a number of compelling public interest factors in favour of prosecution which should be accorded proper weight. These include the following:
- a conviction is likely to result in a significant sentence;
- a weapon was used or violence threatened during the commission of another offence;
- the offence is widespread in the area where it was committed;
- the offender was a ringleader;
- evidence that the offence was premeditated;
- there are grounds for believing the offence is likely to be repeated;
- prosecution would have a significant positive impact on maintaining community confidence;
- a culture of carrying weapons encourages violence and may lead to more serious criminal behaviour.
Depending on the facts, there may also be other important public interest factors supporting prosecution, for example, the offence was committed in a school, prison, hospital or public house, or the defendant was motivated by hostility towards another individual or group.
Recorded Knife offences
In the year ending March 2018, there were around 40,100 (selected) offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales. This is the highest number in the eight-year series (from year ending March 2011) the earliest point for which comparable data are available. This is directly related with improvements in recording practices.