New knife crime powers could target children as young as 12

Children as young as 12 could be placed under curfews under new powers to be given to courts to tackle knife crime.

Anyone aged 12 and over who police believe is carrying a blade could find themselves being subject to such rules and restrictions, which will also include preventing suspects from seeing and communicating with certain people – and being stopped from spending time in specific areas.

The knife crime prevention orders are civil orders and will form part of the Offensive Weapons Act following consultation, having been included in draft guidance published on Thursday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We are cracking down on violent crime, which has a devastating impact on victims, their families, and our communities.

“Our Offensive Weapons Act will help to stop acids and knives making their way onto our streets and being used to carry out horrifying attacks.”

The new orders are the latest move by the government to address serious violence, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson quick to announce a recruitment drive for 20,000 more police officers as soon as he took office last month.

Mr Johnson wants police forces to be bolstered over the next three years, and has also promised an extension of a pilot on stop and search across England and Wales.

The government is under pressure to act on knife crime after a spate of attacks on police officers and members of the public in recent days, with two men stabbed outside an IKEA store in Greenwich on Saturday evening.

On Thursday, PC Andrew Harper of Thames Valley Police died after suffering multiple injuries while responding to reports of a burglary in Berkshire.

His death came after West Midlands Police officer Gareth Phillips was left in intensive care after being run over as he responded to reports of a stolen car on 10 August.

Two days prior, Metropolitan Police officer Stuart Outten also received multiple stab wounds when he was attacked while on duty in Leyton, east London.

Four people have died, including two teenagers, in stabbings around the country in the last seven days, and Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were forced to miss the opening weekend of the new Premier League season after they were targeted by knife-wielding robbers.

The Home Office will be hoping its latest announcement on how it plans to tackle violent crime will be more positively received than a controversial campaign to adorn chicken shop boxes with #knifefree slogans.

Specially-designed packaging was distributed to 210 outlets in England and Wales earlier this week, including popular chain shops such as Chicken Cottage and Dixy Chicken.

The campaign has been labelled “embarrassing” and “racist”, with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott among its harshest critics.

She tweeted: “Instead of investing in a public health approach to violent crime, the Home Office have opted for yet another crude, offensive and probably expensive campaign.

“They would do better to invest in our communities not demonise them.”

Ms Patel also wrote on Twitter to hit back, saying it was a “shame to see” Ms Abbott “playing politics with knife crime”, adding: “I will do everything in my power to stop it traumatising communities. I will not apologise for that.”

Just a day after the campaign was announced, a man in his 60s was injured in a stabbing outside the Home Office building in central London.

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