Drop in jail terms for knife crime
The proportion of criminals being jailed for knife crimes has dropped to its lowest level in almost three years, figures reveal.
Fewer than one in five offenders caught in possession of a knife or offensive weapon received an immediate jail sentence between April and June this year, the first quarter that the proportion has dropped below 20% since 2008.
Only 1,024 of the 5,190 offenders sentenced were jailed, with others receiving community sentences, suspended sentences, cautions or even fines, the Ministry of Justice figures showed.
The Government has said anybody convicted of possessing a knife should expect to be sent to prison and judges have been told to consider a 12-week starting point for the lowest level offence.
But fewer than 20% of those caught in possession of a knife between April and June were jailed, the lowest since fewer than 18% were jailed between July and September 2008.
Instead, one in three was given a community sentence, one in four was cautioned and one in 10 was handed a suspended sentence.
And most of those who were jailed were sentenced to three months or less, the figures showed.
Almost two in five (396) of those jailed received three months or less, while only one in three (334) was jailed for more than six months. More than one in four (290) were handed a sentence of between three and six months.
Overall, the average length of a jail sentence for knife possession was 200 days, similar to that seen in recent months, but significantly more than the 136-day average seen in the same quarter three years ago.
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: "David Cameron promised before the last election that anyone caught carrying a knife could expect a jail term. He broke that promise. This Tory-led Government is sending out confusing signals and is undermining public trust in the sentencing process."