The number of criminals given an immediate prison sentence for carrying a knife or offensive weapon in Cambridgeshire is increasing, new figures reveal.
Knife crime has hit the headlines after a spate of fatal stabbings across the country, and justice minister, Rory Stewart, insists offenders are now more likely to go to jail for knife offences.
In 2018, 210 people were cautioned or convicted by Cambridgeshire Constabulary for possession of a knife or offensive weapon, or threatening with a knife, according to Ministry of Justice data.
Of those, some 76 – or 36 per cent – received an immediate prison sentence.
In 31 cases knife criminals were handed a community order, 51 offenders were given a suspended sentence and a further 25 were given a fine or discharged from court without a sentence.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary also cautioned 27 people for knife crime offences.
The proportion of knife criminals in Cambridgeshire being sent to prison increased, from 35 per cent in 2017.
Across England and Wales, the percentage of offenders getting immediate custody decreased slightly to 34 per cent in 2018.
However that figure is higher than in 2015, when the two-strike rule was imposed, with a minimum six-month prison sentence for criminals caught twice in possession of a blade.
Justice minister Rory Stewart said: “Knife crime destroys lives and shatters communities, and this government is doing everything in its power to tackle its devastating consequences.
“Sentences for those carrying knives are getting tougher - they are more likely to be sent straight to prison, and for longer - than at any time in the last decade.”
In Cambridgeshire last year, one in seven criminals cautioned or convicted were children.
Of the 210, 57 were re-offenders and 11 had been cautioned or convicted three times or more.
The number of knife criminals being dealt with overall by Cambridgeshire Constabulary fell by two per cent since 2017.
A string of recent deaths across the country has prompted intense scrutiny of efforts to combat spiralling knife crime and serious violence.
In the 12 months to March last year, the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales reached the highest level since records started, more than 70 years ago.
Last year also saw the highest number of cautions or convictions for possession or threatening offences in almost a decade.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a £100 million cash injection for forces to tackle the problem, and the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has unveiled plans for new knife crime prevention orders.