Dozens of organisations have called on lawmakers to drop plans for new Knife Crime Prevention Orders, which it is feared could have the counterproductive effect of drawing more children and young people into the criminal justice system. Just for Kids Law was a signatory, alongside 30 other organisations including charities, law firms, universities and professional associations, of a joint letter, published in The Times on Wednesday, which called on parliamentarians to oppose the "flawed and disproportionate" scheme.
The plans, announced by the Home Secretary last week, would give the police powers to impose social media bans and curfews on on anyone aged 12 and over who police believe is carrying a knife, has a history of carrying knives or has previously been convicted of a knife-related offence. Failure to comply with the civil orders could result in criminal charges.
"Children and young people carry knives for complex reasons, including fear for their safety." The letter said. "Effective prevention means dealing with that complexity, and investing in organisations and programmes rooted in the communities suffering the most."
ASBOs had effect of dragging children into criminal justice system - Knife Crime Prevention Orders will have the same effect. We need solutions outside the criminal justice system which address the real reasons why young people carry knives. @EnverSol on @bbc5live— Just for Kids Law (@Justforkidslaw) January 31, 2019
Speaking to the BBC last week, Enver Solomon, CEO of Just for Kids Law, said:
“We know from our work with young people that they carry knives because they don’t feel safe and want to protect themselves, often as result of being victimised by criminal gangs. This will do very little to address the underlying causes of knife crime and will push more young people into the criminal justice system without tackling the factors that led to them being involved in criminal activities in the first place. It is a wholly disproportionate and punitive response modelled on Anti-Social Behaviour Orders that were found to have a negative impact on children and young people. If the government is serious about tackling knife crime it needs to look at the evidence about why children carry knives instead of resorting to harsh headline-grabbing initiatives that won’t work.”