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Law changed after newspaper’s knife campaign

Tougher laws on knife crime have been implemented following a campaign by a London newspaper.

The Enfield Independent launched Don’t Carry, Don’t Kill in June with the aim of getting the law changed regarding sentences for teenagers using knives.

The Newsquest title joined forces with Enfield North MP Nick de Bois to launch the campaign following a rise in stabbings in Enfield and North London.

The newspaper hailed the campaign a success after Justice Secretary Ken Clarke announced new measures on Wednesday for mandatory four-month custodial sentences for 16 and 17-year-olds who threaten others with a knife.

Responding to a series of stabbings on the streets of the borough, including the murders of Negus McClean, Leroy James, and Steven Grisales, the newspaper pressed for an amendment to a bill which already included a six-month mandatory sentence for adults convicted of aggravated knife crime.

It is understood the idea of mandatory sentences won the backing of Home Secretary Theresa May, prompting a battle in cabinet which eventually forced the Prime Minister to intervene.

The amendment will be attached to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

The launch of the campaign in June

Times and Independent series group editor Martin Buhagiar said: “We are delighted to have played a part in guaranteeing custodial sentences for teenagers who use knives. We have seen far too many murders on our streets and nine times out of ten the victims were stabbed. There needs to be a deterrent and we hope that a mandatory sentence will be just that.

“We launched the campaign in June with a clear aim and we are delighted it has been so successful. The proactive approach of Mr De Bois also deserves recognition and does the work of ourEnfield reporters Tristan Kirk and David Hardiman.”

Mr de Bois said: “For the first time ever, it is now clear that in the youth justice system if you use a knife in a threatening fashion you will go to jail if you are 16 or 17, and the Government has made it clear that in all likelihood even if you are younger you will still go to jail.

“I’m delighted and I want to thank the Enfield Independent for their campaign – it came at a perfect time and really helped rally support from the constituency.

“I’d also like to thank all my constituents – particularly the relatives of those of tragic victims of knife crimes who were brave enough to come forward and demand change.

“Parliament has yet to approve this but it’s crucial that we have the Government on board.”