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CPS on Merseyside first to successfully apply for new knife crime measures

|News, Violent crime

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Merseyside is the first CPS Area in the country to successfully apply for the courts to impose new measures to stop persistent knife crime offenders.

Serious Violence Reduction orders (SVROs) are being piloted over the next two years in four police force areas  – Merseyside, Sussex, Thames Valley and West Midlands.

The orders are applied for at court by the Crown Prosecution Service if it is felt that a person being sentenced for knife crime may offend again.

SVROs have been introduced to help address the issue of re-offending in knife crime and offensive weapons and to deter people from carrying and using these weapons. The CPS can apply for the orders independently or in response to a request from the police.

The key aim of the orders is to give the police the power to stop and search an individual that is subject to an SVRO if they suspect they may be carrying a weapon. If they are found to have a knife or a bladed article they can be fined or imprisoned, for up to two years, or both.

The measures are being piloted to see if they are effective in reducing knife crime and stopping persistent offending. The powers are also being piloted to ensure the police are using them proportionately. The pilot will be independently evaluated to understand what impact the orders have on re-offending and serious violent crime before a decision is made on whether to role out the orders nationally.

On Wednesday 7 June 2023, at Bootle Magistrates' Court, the CPS successfully applied for SVROs to be imposed on two people being sentenced for knife crime. These are the first to be imposed by the courts in this country.

The orders are imposed on top of the sentence for the crime itself. They must last for a minimum of six months but not more than two years. They are particularly useful if the defendant is given a suspended sentence so is, in effect, back in the community after the court hearing. If the defendant is imprisoned, the order takes effect from when the offender is released.

Both the defendants given the orders on Wednesday had pleaded guilty and had their sentences suspended. Vivian Holland, 50, was sentenced to 17 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, for three counts of possessing a knife or an offensive weapon. Holland must also do 30 days of a rehabilitation activity, forfeit a variety of implements, including a Stanley blade and scissors, pay a victim surcharge of £154 and costs to the Crown Prosecution Service of £120. The SVRO is imposed for 18 months.

Sarah Dowson, 35, was sentenced to 26 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, for one count of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place. She must carry out 25 days of a rehabilitation activity, forfeit the weapon, pay a victim surcharge of £154 and pay costs of £120. The SVRO is imposed for two years.

District Crown Prosecutor Mandy Nepal, the lead on SVROs in CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: “The Crown Prosecution Service in Mersey-Cheshire is proud to be the first Area to have successfully applied for these orders to be imposed.

“We’ve worked hard with Merseyside Police and implemented this pilot together as criminal justice partners, raising awareness of the catastrophic impact of knife crime in our communities.

“That work has now been acknowledged by the courts and they have begun using the orders when sentencing relevant offenders. Knife crime is a blight on our society and all measures that can help reduce this type of offending are to be welcomed.

“The pilot will enable us to see if this latest measure has an impact and helps safeguard the communities of Merseyside against dangerous people. The Crown Prosecution Service is working hard to both protect the public and prevent offenders from perpetuating a cycle of repeating and escalating their crimes.”

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