Crackdown needed on knife sales

TOUGHER action should be taken against those selling knives to children in Suffolk it was claimed today.

TOUGHER action should be taken against those selling knives to children in Suffolk it was claimed today.

Liberal Democrats in Suffolk say authorities need to crack down on those caught selling knives to children and young people.

Despite 118 serious crimes in the county involving a knife in the county being logged last year, there have been no prosecutions in Suffolk in the past five years for those selling knives to children.

Nationally only 71 people have been successfully prosecuted for selling knives to children in the last five years, none were sent to prison and only one was given a community sentence.

Lib Dem group leader Kathy Pollard said: "This is a completely inadequate deterrent to unscrupulous shop keepers who flout the law to sell these weapons to children and young people.

"These tiny fines and a lack of custodial punishment is the wrong signal to those who profit from the illegal sale of knives.

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"These figures are particularly worrying as they came to light only days after the release of other figures showing 118 serious crimes in Suffolk involved a knife in 2007/8.

"These figures do not record children and young people separately but they do show that knife crime is a serious problem. It is too easy for children and young people to get hold of knives. Too many are being drawn into a culture of carrying and using knives.

Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, said the authority takes knife crime very seriously and carried out an operation last summer which resulted in three illegal sales from five visits with written warnings issued to the offending stores.

She said: "From the intelligence recently received by the police and trading standards officers, this doesn't seem to be a major problem in Suffolk.

“However, we are certainly not going to become complacent. During the school holidays, when young people have lots of time on their hands, our officers will be out and about, checking on all aspects of underage sales and responding to complaints.”

n. Should more be done to prevent knife crime in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk