Gummer calls for more prison places

INCREASING the number of prison spaces is vital if knife crime is to be tackled, the Conservative candidate for Ipswich at the next general election said today.

INCREASING the number of prison spaces is vital if knife crime is to be tackled, the Conservative candidate for Ipswich at the next general election said today.

Parliamentary hopeful Ben Gummer said people are right to be concerned about the menace of knife crime but reckons handing out prison sentences for the offence is made difficult by the overcrowded state of jails in the UK.

His comments come on the back of Ipswich MP Chris Mole saying last week that a “strong message” needs to be sent out to knife criminals.

Mr Mole said he would support a minimum tariff for those caught carrying a knife, possibly a mandatory jail term.

His political opponent Ben Gummer said this cannot happen until more prison cells are available.

He said: "Arrests in Suffolk for carrying a knife in a public space, including schools, have increased by 330per cent in the last ten years, so clearly public concern on this issue is warranted.

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“The police already have strong powers to deal with offenders.

“However, officers still spend too much time on paperwork and can't focus on serious crime.

“Moreover, the government has instructed judges not to send offenders to prison as the jails are full.

“The causes of knife crime are deep-seated, but immediate actions are needed to deal with the horrifying increase in assaults with knives.

“Making sure the police have time to catch dangerous criminals and that judges are able to send them to prison would be a good start."

Are you concerned about knife crime? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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