A police commissioner has reacted with dismay after a teenager avoided custody after he was involved in a violent gang knife attack.

The 15-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was one of four people who carried out the violent attack on a Middlesbrough teenager and a girl who tried to intervene.

The boy was sentenced to an 18-month youth rehabilitation order with intensive supervision for 90 days and made him subject to a three-month curfew between 7pm and 7am following the attack on May 11 last year.

In the summer, Steve Turner, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, helped launch a scheme in the force area with the dual purpose of aiming to reduce knife crime and get to the root causes.

The new ‘Custody Navigators’ who have been speaking to first-time offenders are hearing that ‘young people are scared and feel they need to have some protection’.

However, after learning that the teenager walked free from court after appearing at Teesside Crown Court, he said he struggled to understand how that had happened.

“I was appalled to hear about this violent attack in Middlesbrough and my thoughts remain with the two victims affected by this terrifying ordeal,” he said.

“Whilst I recognise the young age of the perpetrator in this case, this was a pre-planned assault using dangerous weapons and resulting in significant injuries to victims. On that basis, I struggle to see any justification in avoiding a custodial sentence.

“I worry about the message this sentence sends to Cleveland’s communities – that someone capable of terrorising individuals and inflicting violence in such a way is free to walk the streets.

The Northern Echo: Cleveland PCC Steve TurnerCleveland PCC Steve Turner

“The punishment for using a knife, and for carrying one, must reflect the severity of the crime and act as a real deterrent, which is why I welcomed the Government’s announcement to increase the maximum custodial term for adults caught carrying knives from six months to two years, as well as the banning of machetes and zombie style knives with no practical use.

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“I completely support the police being given the necessary tools to seize, retain and destroy certain bladed articles where there are reasonable grounds to believe the item will be used in serious crime.

"This will encourage a proactive policing approach, including the use of appropriate stop and search powers, which will actively reduce the number of dangerous knives within the community.”

The Northern Echo is campaigning to stop knife crime in the North East and has launched The North East Knife Crime Taskforce to help see this end.

The Taskforce is an open forum to enable organisations involved to share information, expertise, and resources with the common purpose of stopping young people from using knives as weapons.