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Possession of knives - CPS statement

05/06/2008

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald QC, said today that anyone caught in possession of a knife in a public place can expect to be prosecuted.

Sir Ken said: "The Crown Prosecution Service welcomes the fact that the police will be sending us more of these cases in future. We shall examine them carefully. People who carry knives put themselves as well as others at serious risk of injury. Those caught in possession of a knife in a public place and with no reasonable excuse can expect to be prosecuted.

"In addition, anyone carrying a knife during the commission of any other offence will be prosecuted for the possession of the knife as well."

Attorney General, Baroness Scotland said:

"I fully endorse this new guidance which brings into sharper focus for prosecutors the public interest factors supporting the prosecution of knife crime. These factors include whether the offence is widespread in the area or the offender was a ringleader. The message to offenders is plain - if you are over 16 and in possession of a knife you can expect to be prosecuted."

Further guidance that has been issued to prosecutors today sets out in detail the public interest factors in favour of prosecution.

The CPS has also changed its charging guidance so that where there is evidence that an offence in addition to possession of a knife or weapon has been committed we will charge both offences. Previously prosecutors may only have charged the more serious offence. This change will enable the courts to order forfeiture and destruction of the weapon, even if the defendant is only found guilty of possessing the knife or weapon and acquitted of the other offence.

  1. CPS guidance is available in our Legal Guidance section on this website.

    Go to Offensive weapons, knives, bladed and pointed articles guidance

  2. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8102.
  3. The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government Department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution;
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute;
    • Preparing cases for court;
    • Presentation of cases at court;

    The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 83.7% in 2006-2007.

    More about the CPS

    The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol