Would tougher sentences for knife crime deter people from killing people with knives?
I doubt it – most of these young thugs live in a fantasy world, and are less deterred by friends going down than you might think. It might make a difference if areas where knife carrying is rampant were to be flooded periodically with police, with random stop and search used as a deterrant – those caught armed will have their DNA taken and stored, quite apart from any penalty – and I suspect for those on the fringes of armed violence, severe community service sentences might be more effective than prison. Having said which, anyone who uses a knife on another person should always – ALWAYS – be sent down and actually serve at least three years for a minor wound, far more, five actually served at least, for GBH or attempted murder – and the CPS should stop accepting manslaughter pleas in cases that are clearly murder.
I think it would help if prison sentences were longer, and prison itself was more of a punishment and less of a vacation. I agree, however, that it would not solve the problem. Many of those who carry knives do it because they believe if they did not, they would have no way of defending themselves from all the others who carry knives, or the large numbers the assume are carrying knives, especially in urban areas. Also, at the moment, for carrying a knife you get a much lower sentence (if any) than if you are caught using it. Those searched and found to be carrying a knife should have much, much higher sentences. But that won’t happen when we have no prison space. Just shows how incompetent our government is when they can’t even plan to build enough prison cells to keep dangerous people off the streets. I think that social reform in conjunction with tougher sentences would be more effective, so we tackle the root problem of increased crime – poverty and poor education.