JUDGES were accused of “failing the public” yesterday as it emerged a third of repeat knife offenders were spared prison.
A crackdown by ex-PM David Cameron in 2015 instructed judges to issue mandatory sentences of at least six months.
The revelation risks fuelling the outcry over the Government’s response to the knife crime epidemic sweeping Britain.
The figures separately revealed there were a staggering 21,484 offences of possessing or making threats with a knife in 2018 – the highest for nearly a decade.
Overall, two thirds of these cases didn’t result in an immediate jail term.
Former Tory MP and knife crime campaigner Nick de Bois said: “Judges are failing the public and failing victims as they stubbornly refuse to send offenders to jail for repeatedly carrying a knife despite parliament backing mandatory jail terms for our offence.
“Jail time alone won’t solve knife crime but it does mean serious offenders are taken off the streets and show that others that they will answer for their despicable crimes.
KNIFE CRIME HIGHEST IN NEARLY A DECADE
He added: “These judges need to respect the law which is to send repeat offenders to jail.”
The Ministry of Justice insisted offenders were now more likely to go to jail for a knife crime. A spokesman said sentences were at the highest level since current records began in 2008.
Almost 8,000 or 37 per cent of offences resulted in immediate jail terms – compared with 5,734 or 20 per cent in 2009.
But the recent spate of brutal murders such as the slaying of Romford teenager Jodie Chesney has shocked the nation – and triggered calls for greater action.
The MoJ was forced to admit last weekend that Justice Secretary David Gauke’s controversial plan to scrap short prison sentences may have to be reviewed to exempt knife criminals.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced an extra £100 million for the police to tackle violent crime in his Spring Statement.
In a statement yesterday Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: “Knife crime destroys lives and shatters communities, and this Government is doing everything in its power to tackle its devastating consequences.
“Sentences for those carrying knives are getting tougher – they are more likely to be sent straight to prison, and for longer – than at any time in the last decade.”