In the last few years we have sadly become accustomed to the spate of knife attacks that have frequently featured on our newspapers and television screens. To this effect London became the first city in England and Wales to pilot Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPO) in July 2021. The pilot scheme is set to run in London for 14 months before being rolled out to other forces across England and Wales.
The aim of KCPOs is to divert people who may be carrying knives, or who are at great risk of being drawn into serious violence, away from being involved in knife crime. They will also be applied to those that have been convicted of knife crime offences in order to prevent reoffending. In essence, the aim is that KCPOs will be a preventative tool.
A KCPO can be issued to any person who is aged 12 and over, and it can be issued on conviction or ‘other than on conviction’ (also known as complaint).
In relation to a KCPO upon conviction, the court must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the defendant has been convicted of an offence which is a relevant offence (an offence involving violence or the threat of violence, or where a bladed article was used or carried by any person in the commission of the offence), the prosecutor must apply for a KCPO and the court must be satisfied that it is necessary to make the order to protect the public from the risk of harm involving a bladed article, to protect any particular member of the public from such risk (including the defendant) or to prevent the defendant from committing an offence involving a bladed article.
In relation to a KCPO upon complaint, the applicant must comply with the requirements of s15 of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, the court must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the defendant has on at least two occasions in the relevant period (two years before the date that the order is made) had a bladed article with them in a public place, school premises or on further education premises without good reason or lawful authority, and the court must consider it necessary to make the order to protect the public or particular persons (including the defendant) from the risk of physical or psychological harm involving a bladed article, or to prevent the defendant committing an offence involving a bladed article. The Youth Offending Team must be consulted before a KCPO is issued to someone under the age of 18.
There are a host of positive requirements that can be attached to a KCPO, which includes (but is not limited to) educational courses, drug rehabilitation programmes, anger management classes and sporting participation. An exclusion zone, non-participation with individuals or use of the internet to encourage crime are examples of restrictive requirements that can be attached to a KCPO.
It will be interesting to see the impact that KCPOs will have on knife crime and the extent to which the aim is met. If you would like detailed expert advice on KCPOs, please get in touch with our criminal lawyers at TV Edwards Solicitors.