Monday, 14 July, 2008

Parents demand a curfew

NEARLY 70 knife crimes are being committed in England and Wales every day.

The tally of people stabbed or mugged at knife-point has reached 25,000 in the past year, according to the latest figures.

Opposition MPs called them "shocking" and demanded the Government takes action.

But proposals by ministers to force yobs to visit knife victims in hospitals were slated "soft" by MPs and campaigners.

And a poll suggested the public instead backed a curfew on youngsters to keep them off the streets at night.

The crime stats were revealed by 33 of England and Wales's 43 police forces, and showed 20,803 crimes in the past year. If the other forces were included, the true figure would be above 25,000, or 68 a day, experts said.

And the numbers only include murders, stabbings where blood is drawn and robberies.

If so-called "minor" knife crime was added, such as possession or threats, the figures would rocket further. Worstaffected areas were London - where 20 teens have been murdered this year - Manchester, Merseyside, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands.

The latest London victim was named yesterday as 20-year-old student Yusufu Miiro, who was stabbed in Walthamstow.

Robberies account for 50%of major knife crime, with the other half made up of murders, attempted murders and woundings.

One poll showed more than half of parents would welcome a 9pm curfew for 10 to 16-yearolds, rising to 88% support for a 10pm lockdown.

Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, of the home affairs select committee, said: "I have sympathy for the view that children should not be out after 9pm." Instead, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's plans include:

. forcing thugs to visit stab victims in hospital.

. young offenders doing community service on Friday and Saturday nights.

. taking licences off pubs that fail to search drinkers.

. axing Government targets to free more police from red tape.

But Anne Oakes-Odger, whose son Westley was stabbed to death in 2005, said: "It all sounds rather cumbersome." She also thought victims needed consulting before criminals were dragged through hospitals.

"I can't help but wonder how the actual stab victims would feel about that, " she said.

Tory home af fairs spokesman David Ruffley said not locking up knife carriers "simply doesn't send out the right message".

And Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne called the plans "half-baked".