Families of stabbing victims welcome tougher rules on knife crime
Two families who had their lives torn apart as a result of knife crime have welcomed new guidelines which could see longer jail terms for those caught carrying a knife.
From June 1, judges will have greater powers to jail those convicted of carrying a bladed weapon or offensive weapon, such as acid, in public and of using one to threaten someone, for longer.
The new guidelines aim to ensure consistency in sentencing.
Over the years there have been several changes to the law - including the introduction of new offences like threatening with a bladed article/offensive weapon in a public place.
Some of these also have mandatory minimum sentences - including six months in jail for those who use any type of weapon to threaten others.
The current guidelines gives the highest sentences to those offenders who threaten with knives - they will always receive sentences greater than six months.
The new guidelines - which could see longer jail terms for those simply carrying a knife - have been welcomed by Gemma Maughan and Pat McDougall.
Gemma’s brother David Charlton was killed when he was stabbed to death in Stanhope Road in 2012.
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Pat’s grandson, Glen Corner, was killed on his 16th birthday after he was attacked by a fellow teenager armed with a knife in Harton in August 2006.
Both women, with the support of police, have been involved in raising awareness of the dangers of knives to young people.
Police say there is currently not an issue with knife crime in South Tyneside - something they are keen to keep that way.
Gemma Maughan said: “Anything which increases the length of sentencing for those carrying a knife or bladed weapon, which reflects the seriousness of the issue, has to be a positive one.
“The new guidelines show that the issue of knife crime is being taken seriously and is continuously being looked at.
“With the amount of knife crime you hear about and that it is rising - it’s only right it is looked at and tougher sentences are imposed.”
Pat McDougall said: “This is good news, however, I still feel courts needs to get stricter on those carrying knives.
“It’s all well and good having these guidelines and mandatory sentences, but the courts need to be implementing them.”