The Violent Crime Reduction Bill came back to the Commons for Lords Amendments. All over bar the shouting really! The Government had finally realised that it had to lay amendments lengthening the sentence for carrying a knife or bladed weapon in a public place. There had been a Tory amendment to lengthen it to 5 years and a Lib Dem one to lengthen it to 7 (same as for a gun) – but the Government had voted against previously. However, it is often the way that the Government just won’t vote positively on an opposition amendment. They vote against and then bring it back themselves later in the process. So who cares – so long as they finally saw sense.
That having been said – it ain’t just the sentence. The real proof of pudding will be less young people carrying – and that needs a mix of police work, prevention, education, making kids feel safe on the streets, giving them life chances, working with them to show it’s not ‘cool’ – as well as the deterrent of a longer sentence and the actual custodial detention itself. It isn’t quick, cheap or easy to change a whole culture – but that’s what we are up against.
The other highlights were around imitation firearms, Drink Banning Orders and Alcohol Disorder Zones. We support totally the tackling of the twin challenges of weapons and alcohol – but it’s how these laws are enforced that will matter. Anyway – now that one is on its way to the final stage of legislation. Whew!