LibLink: Ed Davey: Sajid Javid’s knife ASBOs won’t work. Here’s a better solution

In the New Statesman, Ed Davey writes that knife crime must be treated as a public health and education issue and that Sajid Javid’s punitive approach will not work.

First he outlines the problems with Javid’s Knife Crime Protection Orders:

I can’t imagine what it is about the experience of ASBOs makes Javid think they’ll work for knife crime. In some communities, ASBOs were seen as a “badge of honour”. Many young people openly flouted them. The threat of prison simply doesn’t work as a deterrent for a lot of young people.

Even worse, ASBOs consumed a lot of police time and resources, whether applying to the courts to get one or enforcing its conditions afterwards. And that was at a time when we had far more police.

If Javid doesn’t remember what a failure ASBOs were, he should just ask his boss. Theresa May, as Home Secretary, described them as “bureaucratic” and “gimmick-laden”. “They were too time consuming and expensive,” she said. “And they too often criminalised young people unnecessarily, acting as a conveyor belt to serious crime and prison.” She was right, and that’s why as Home Secretary, she abolished them.

He suggests a different approach:

I’m proposing knife ABCs: Anti-Blade Contracts.

They could be imposed the first time a young person is caught with a knife, but could also be used proactively for children involved in gangs or who might be considering carrying a knife. The young person would sign a contract saying “I will not carry a knife.” In return, they could be guaranteed services to help them feel safer: a police officer or social worker to call whenever they need them, for example.

Crucially, these new ABCs would be backed up by education and engagement: proper conversations with young people about knives. And by making clear that there are consequences for breaking these contracts: perhaps larger fines or tougher community sentences if they are convicted for carrying a knife in future.

You can read the whole article here.

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