Anyone caught in possession of a knife should expect to be sent to jail, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.
Mrs May said the Government is “absolutely clear” that anybody convicted of possessing a knife should expect to be sent to prison after ex-EastEnders star Brooke Kinsella, whose 16-year-old brother Ben was stabbed to death three years ago, said prisons need to be tougher.
The 27-year-old actress, appointed as a Government adviser on the issue last year, also called for primary school children to be given anti-knife crime workshops in schools.
Many headteachers are reluctant to run such lessons out of a fear their school will be labelled as having a problem with knife crime, damaging its reputation, Ms Kinsella said.
Speaking after the launch of Ms Kinsella’s report in central London, the Home Secretary said anyone found in possession of a knife should expect to spend time behind bars.
She said: “On sentencing we’re absolutely clear that the sentence for somebody who is convicted of murder using a knife should be 25 years and we’re absolutely clear that somebody found in possession, caught in possession and convicted of possession of a knife, should expect a custodial sentence.”
Launching the sentencing green paper in December, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke told MPs knife crime was “wholly unacceptable”, saying: “Any adult who commits a crime using a knife can expect to be sent to prison and serious offenders can expect a long sentence.”
But in her report Ms Kinsella said some young offenders still see prison and young offenders institutions as holiday camps.
“Many young offenders said they actually become accustomed to life in a young offenders institution, with some describing it as ‘a holiday camp’,” she said. “Just as the new Government is making it more beneficial to work than to be on benefits, so too must we turn prisons and institutions back into places of punishment, where people want to get out and ensure they don’t go back.”
Ms Kinsella said her “biggest concern” was schools and called for primary school children to be given anti-knife crime awareness lessons.