Bishop of St Albans asks about government efforts to reduce knife crime

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 23rd February 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to reduce incidences of knife crime against shop workers.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con): The Home Office has provided £130m this financial year (22/23) to tackle and drive down serious violence, including funding for Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) and the Home Office ‘Grip’ programme.

We have introduced legislation to tackle these crimes. Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) are new court orders introduced via the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 that will give the police the power to stop and search adults already convicted of knife or offensive weapons offences. We will pilot SVROs in four police force areas to build an understanding of the impact and effectiveness of the new orders before making a decision on whether we should introduce them nationally.

Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) were introduced in the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. KCPOs impose curfews and restrictions on high-risk individuals. They are currently being piloted by the Metropolitan Police before a decision is taken on wider rollout.

In addition, section 156 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 introduced a statutory aggravating factor for assault against any public facing worker. This ensures the courts treat the public-facing nature of a victim’s role as an aggravating factor when considering the sentence for any assault offence where they consider this factor to be relevant.

The Home Office continues to work closely with retailers, trade associations and the police through the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) to encourage retailers to work with police so that crimes are effectively dealt with at a local level. The NRCSG has produced practical resources to assist with crime prevention and encourage retailers to report crimes when they occur.


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