KNIFE-WIELDING North East criminals are ‘laughing in the face of justice’, according to campaigners calling for tougher sentences for repeat offenders.

Stark new figures show nearly 2,000 people with previous knife crime convictions have escaped jail in the region since 2011 – and more than 250 of them had committed three or more similar crimes.

Theresa Cave, who has campaigned against knife crime since her son Chris was stabbed to death in 2003, said the figures proved many reoffenders are walking away from their crimes with just a “slapped wrist”.

Read more: Shocking video shows dummies falling out of new roller coaster at Flamingo Land

The Northern Echo: Chris CaveChris Cave

Northern Echo analysis of Ministry of Justice figures show 13,145 people have been convicted or cautioned over carrying knives since 2011 - and a third of them were repeat offenders.

More than 2,200 serial offenders were sent straight to jail and 699 were given suspended custodial sentences, while around 700 were handed community punishments and more than 100 given cautions.

Despite the Government’s introduction of the minimum prison sentence for knife users, which means adults convicted more than once of being in possession of a blade face a minimum of six months imprisonment, a third of those with three or more convictions for knife crime escaped prison.

Ms Cave, founder of the Redcar-based Chris Cave Foundation, called for more custodial sentences for repeat offenders and said more must be done to tackle knife crime.

She believes work is on-going to combat the problem but suggested prison sentences did not always deter criminals, adding: “When they do get jail sentences, they’re going in for a week or two and coming out on tag, it’s a holiday for some of them.”

Read more: LISTED: 7 people who were caught stealing from Tesco stores in the North East

Ms Cave added: “Let’s just hope the Government start handing out sentences that fit the crime.”

Fellow campaigner Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Foundation – also established in memory of a murdered teen – said the figures made for “appalling reading”.

He said the system was clearly broken, adding: “How can justice be seen to have been done when a third of habitual knife carriers walk free from court?

“We cannot expect to make any meaningful headway in tackling knife crime until the justice system takes stronger action in putting serial offenders behind bars.”

The Northern Echo: File pic of knife crime

Just last year, 1,098 people in the North East were convicted or cautioned for carrying knives, or for using a blade to threaten someone.

Of those, nearly 400 had similar offences on their record and 91 had more than three convictions or cautions – 69 of them went to jail.

The scale of knife crime in the region is likely to be far higher as the figures do not include assaults or killings.

Read more: Petrol station branded 'disgraceful' after charging drivers more than £2 per litre

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said those caught carrying a knife are more likely to be sent to jail, and for longer, than they were a decade ago.


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Teesside Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054