Sutton Coldfield and Erdington Liberal Democrats are calling for tougher action against individuals caught selling knives to children and young people.
Cllr Ann Holtom, who represents Tyburn Ward on Birmingham City Council, made the call after seeing figures for prosecutions that were uncovered in the House of Commons by Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne MP.
The figures reveal that:
- only 71 people have been successfully prosecuted for selling knives to children in the last five years
- not a single one was sent to prison and only one was given a community sentence
- 56 were fined, but 21 of them were given fines of less than £200
Commenting, Ann said, "This record and the level of fines imposed is a totally inadequate deterrent to people wicked enough to sell these weapons to children and young people."
"These fines are feeble and the fact that not one person has been sent to prison sends completely the wrong message to those who profit from the illegal sale of knives and does nothing to help stop our children and young people from being drawn into a culture of carrying and using knives.
"Liberal Democrats believe that the courts must take a far stronger and tougher line on those who are adding to the problem of knife crime by illegally selling knives to children and young people.
"Cutting off the supply of knives must be one of the most effective ways to reducing knife crime in the first place."
"These figures are particularly worrying as they came to light only days after the release of other figures showing 2,303 serious crimes in the West Midlands area involved a knife in 2007/8. Knife crime is 22% of all serious crime taking place here".
The maximum punishment for selling a knife to someone who is underage is six months in prison and/or a £5,000 fine. Since 1st October 2007, underage in this context has been under 18 years of age. The figures obtained by Chris Huhne MP are for the period 2002-2006 (the latest period for which figures are available), when it was under 16 years of age.