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Nine out of 10 knife yobs don't go to prison with 20% escaping with just a cautionFigures come as Government introduces new offence with aim of jailing more offenders
08:58 GMT, 7 December 2012
Nine out of 10 youths caught in possession of a knife walk free without being locked up, new figures show.
The number receiving a caution for possession of a knife has also fallen with the lowest form of formal police action being accepted by 20 per cent (875 cases) of those caught carrying bladed weapons.
The figures relate to the third quarter of this year and are down from 23 per cent (1,101) in the same period last year the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics showed.
(File picture) Figures from the Ministry of Justice show nine out of 10 youths caught in possession of a knife walk free without being locked up
The figures come in the same week Justice Secretary Chris Grayling introduced a new offence of aggravated knife crime with the aim of jailing more offenders, saying he was 'not happy' with the number of cautions issued by police.
But immediate custodial sentences for knife possession were also down from 25 per cent (1,362) of cases in the same part of 2011 to 23 per cent (1,008) this year, although they were up on the previous three months from April to June (22 per cent).
Conservative Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: 'We are clear knife crime is unacceptable and must be dealt with severely.
'That is why we have just introduced a new offence so anyone who uses a knife to threaten or endanger others in public or in a school will now face a mandatory custodial sentence.
'We are also conducting a review of the punishments available for carrying a knife and will bring forward proposals in due course.'
The MoJ statistics showed a rise in only one category of punishment, suspended prison sentences, which increased from 11 per cent (689) to 13 per cent (579) compared with this time last year.
Crackdown: Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has introduced a new offence of aggravated knife crime with the aim of jailing more offenders
The number of people receiving community punishment for knife possession fell from 30 per cent (1,672) to 29 per cent (1,274).
The new laws were introduced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling last weekend and also include a 'two strikes and out' rule which will see offenders given life terms if they commit a second serious offence for crimes such as rape, armed robbery and inflicting grievous bodily harm.
At the time he said the new crime of aggravated knife crime would protect the public by allowing courts to jail offenders for longer.
'If you're wandering round carrying knife in a threatening way, you will go to jail,' he said.
'I'm also looking at the issue of cautions for knife crime, which I'm not happy with at all.'
Mr Grayling, who was promoted to the Cabinet in September's reshuffle to replace Kenneth Clarke, said he would make 'more changes' as he continues to review sentences.