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Campaigning editor welcomes knife crime move

Shields Gazette editor John Szymanski has welcomed the latest government crackdown on knife crime following a campaign by the north-east daily.

The Gazette’s Our Knives Ruin Lives campaign has been calling for tougher sentences in a bid to banish blades from the streets.

It was sparked by the 2006 murders in South Shields of Lee Phipps, 31, and 16-year-old Glen Corner five months later.

In a statement to the Commons, Justice Secretary Jack Straw said knife killers could now face jail terms of 30 years.

Previously, the starting point used by judges sentencing knife murderers was 15 years, but 30 years for murders committed with a gun.

But Mr Straw told MPs there were “considerable concerns” about the discrepancy and will consult judges and other bodies with a view to amending the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Said John: “There was a sense of shock and revulsion when Glen Corner was stabbed to death.

“From then on, the Gazette decided enough was enough when it came to people carrying knives on the streets of South Tyneside.

“We have argued that the deterrents in place were not sufficient and urged the courts to get tough to prevent more tragedies.

“On behalf of everyone involved in this long-running campaign, I am delighted that at long last the scourge of knife crime has been taken seriously and I hope any new measures will make our streets safer.”