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One in three repeat knife offenders in Norfolk avoid jail, new figures show

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Tougher prison sentences are being demanded after new figures revealed a third of Norfolk’s repeat knife crime offenders were spared jail.

A new analysis shows that 34 per cent of the criminals in the county found guilty of at least two knife crime offences have received a suspended sentence in the last five years.

This is despite the government’s “two strikes and you’re out” pledge in 2015 – promising repeat offenders would face a minimum of a six months sentence.

Criminal with knife weapon threatening to stab. (54614393)
Criminal with knife weapon threatening to stab. (54614393)

The findings were uncovered as part of a national survey by the Labour Party and include a high-profile murder case in Norwich.

Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, Giles Orpen-Smellie acknowledged the issue but said it was for judges to decide on sentences.

“While the government has encouraged the criminal justice system to go tough on knife crime it is ultimately up to the judge to decide what the appropriate sentence is for that person.

Giles Orpen-Smellie, Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner.
Giles Orpen-Smellie, Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner.

“For my own part I do not like knives being carried in public and I think there’s work to do in educating people, particularly school-age people, to say that it is not a good idea.”

However, Mr Orpen-Smellie also argued that knife crime was a larger problem in places like London, which suffers from more gang-related crime than Norfolk.

He said that only one of the murders in Norfolk this year was believed to be possibly gang-related.

“The current government is working hard on law and order, that’s why they are recruiting more police officers.

“There is always more that could be done but I think they are doing more than the previous Conservative government.”

He added it would not be possible to comment on individual cases without knowing all the details.

But Labour accused the Government of being "soft on crime".

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed said: “Time and again, the Conservatives have broken their promises to tackle knife crime and, to top it all, their record-breaking Crown Court backlog will see even more knife criminals let off and more victims let down.”

A Government spokesperson said: “While judges decide sentences, those caught carrying a knife are more likely to be sent to jail than they were a decade ago and new laws will see more repeat offenders face time behind bars.”

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