Monday, 19 March 2012

Staying soft on knife crime

An article in the the West Australian this weekend covered a story that the Labour government were to get tough on knife crime.

Well, this is a good thing and it's about time somebody did get tough on it, I thought upon reading the headline. But reading the article made me feel that the governments idea of a tough policy far differs from mine.

The governments tough stance would mean that anybody found with a knife will be given a fine of "up to $48,000 and a prison sentence of up to four years". For prohibited knives, such as flick-knives, the possible sentence is increased to $72,000 and up to six years in prison.

In my opinion, this tough stance is nowhere near tough enough.

Part of the problem I have with this sentence is the use of the phrase "up to". I've long been wary of this phrase, and as time rolls on, I feel that many others are too. In this case, I fully expect that "up to four years in prison" will actually mean "around six months prison if you get a judge on a really bad day and admitted your intention of actually using the weapon."

As for the fine element, this is often pointless as the person who committed the crime will not have the money to cover both the fine and the legal costs so, somewhere down the line, a different section of government will either declare the person bankrupt, in which case the fine will be written off, or allow the guilty to seek some form of legal aid which would mean that the fine would be reimbursed through the tax system. Ultimately that means that the citizens that the guilty party has threatened end up paying for it.

So what do I consider to be tough punishment?

It is my opinion that if a person leaves their house with a knife, or any weapon for that matter, then they have already made the decision that they will, when they see fit, use said weapon against another person. If they were to do so, the crime would be treated either as murder, or as manslaughter. There is, as is often the case in legal terms, a thin line between these two definitions and it will usually centre around whether or not the crime is premeditated.

As we have already established, the knife carrier, having left their house with a weapon must have the intention of using it. Therefore, I would like to see the sentence increased to that of murder. Obviously, if the perpetrator is caught before the weapon is used, the crime of murder would be victimless, but I feel that a ruling of attempted murder would not be unfair and, if nothing else, would serve far more as a deterrent than both the current and the proposed sentences.

Knife crime is a horrible plague of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that has taken hold of suburban areas of many of the worlds cities. Only by getting truly tough on this sort of crime will we ever put stop to the
damage and the misery that results from these crimes.

Do you have an opinion on this? If so, why not leave a comment at the bottom of the page.


  1. We are allowed to carry knives in Canada if they are in full view. I used to carry one while walking in the forest because of bears and cougars and maybe a nut-job person. I wore it on my belt.

    That said, someone may carry a knife for protection instead of intent to harm someone. I see what you mean about the fines. A guy who carries a knife probably has no money. I do think a few weeks in jail may be all that is needed to teach someone a lesson. But if they are caught a second time then there should be a stiff sentence.

    1. Belle, thank you for the comment.

      I agree with having to carry a knife for protection from wildlife when out walking in a forest (well, in certain parts of the world, anyway. I don't think squirrels count so much as a risk, lol!). Where I don't agree is carrying a concealed knife in a populous area such as a city centre. Admittedly, this is where it would be more likely to have the crazy people, where some protection is necessary. But there are alternatives to lethal weapons. Tazers, pepper spray, those sorts of things are non-lethal deterrents much less likely to cause death (there are extreme circumstances where tazers may cause death due to heart attach, but these are extreme circumstances). It is an interesting fact that if you carry a knife in cities such as London you are many many times more likely to die in a violent incident than if you are unarmed. Maybe it is because if you are unarmed, you don't mix with the sorts of people who leave their houses with concealed weapons, but the fact still stands.

      As for the second offence argument, part of me would like to agree. But I still have a little wariness about it. My reason for this is that if somebody is caught with a concealed weapon, and a short stint in prison doesn't deter them, the next time they offend it could be for something far more serious. Quite often I will read a paper where somebody has committed a violent offence, and their background and previous history suggests that they should never have been on the streets in the first place.

      It's a legal and moral minefield. Is there a solution, I just don't know!

  2. You spelled Government wrong, and attack.

    Love you!!


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