TWO South Tyneside families who have been devastated by murders have criticised new figures which reveal fewer people are being jailed for carrying a knife.
New Government figures reveal that in the last quarter of 2012, the number of people given immediate jail sentences for carrying a knife was down from 28 per cent to 27 per cent year on year.
Pat McDougall’s life was turned upside down when her grandson, Glen Corner, was stabbed to death on his 16th birthday in August 2006.
Since then, Pat, her family and Glen’s friends have been raising awareness among young people – through the Glen Corner Trust – of the dangers of carrying a knife.
They also supported a move in 2011 by the Government to hand out tougher sentences to people caught carrying a blade.
They, along with Jarrow father David Hines, say they have been left disappointed at the latest figures.
Mr Hines is the head of services and development of the National Victims Association – a charity helping families affected by murder and manslaughter – which was set up after the death of his daughter Marie, 23, who was killed by her ex-partner in 1992.
The number of adults given an immediate jail sentence was also down two per cent compared to 2011 to 30 per cent.
At the same time, the number of suspended sentences rose from 12 per cent to 13 per cent and the number of cautions increased to 19 per cent. But the average jail term for possession was 226 days or 7.4 months – four per cent longer than in the last three months of 2011.
The number of youths punished for carrying a knife fell to 660 – down 22 per cent – compared to 3,322 adults, a fall of 16 per cent.
After the teenager’s death, the Glen Corner Trust joined forces with police and the Gazette to launch the Knives Ruin Lives campaign.
Mrs McDougall said: “I’m glad people are spending longer in jail for carrying a knife, but more people need to be jailed to send a stronger message to those who do this.
“Every person who carries a knife is a potential killer. As well as sending these people to jail they should also be educated on the dangers of carrying knives.
“They have drink drive programmes so why not a programme for this issue.”
Mr Hines said: “What is the point in having sentences if they are not being handed out?
“The Government said it would get tough on knife crime and yet here we are with fewer people being jailed for carrying a knife. What message is that sending?
“A person chooses to carry a knife and, whatever they may say in their defence, they have every intention of using it. If they didn’t, why carry it?
“I think it’s really sad, and the public will continue to lose faith in the justice system. I am really disappointed to hear those figures.”