UK & World News

  • 17 June 2014, 6:53

Thousands Of Kids Carry Weapons, Study Suggests

A study given exclusively to Sky News has found 7% of children aged seven to 16 have carried a weapon.

The figure is much higher than previous Home Office estimates, even though the new survey was conducted in rural areas.

The report comes as MPs prepared to vote on new knife crime legislation.

A group called Only Cowards Carry, which conducts knife awareness courses in schools, also found 9% of children would carry a weapon in certain circumstances and 26% of children knew someone who carried one.

The figures are higher than a previous national Home Office study in 2011 of children aged 13-15 which found only 1-100 children carried a knife.

The study of 3,237 pupils was conducted in 45 schools in East Anglia.

Caroline Shearer from OCC said: "This is an accurate study because it goes direct to the children in schools.

"The questionnaires were given to them at the beginning of the course and were anonymous, but even so some children didn't want to answer, so I wonder if the figure might be even higher."

Mrs Shearer set up the courses after losing her son to a knife attack in 2012.

Jay Whiston was killed at a party in Colchester aged 17.

His 18-year-old killer Edward Redman had committed previous weapon offences.

Jay was a pupil at Tendering Technology College in Clacton, and the Principal Caroline Haynes has a zero tolerance policy for weapons and has expelled four children for carrying knives in 10 years.

She told Sky News: "I wish the figures surprised me but they don't. I think what people have to take on board is that it isn't just an inner-city problem.

"We have permanently excluded children for bringing a knife onto the school premises, and they have all been under the age of 14.

"Why have they done that? They weren't particularly naughty children but they did something very stupid and had not thought through the consequences of what they were doing - and young people need to be constantly reminded of that." 

In the Commons later, MPs will vote on whether people caught carrying a knife for the second time will face automatic jail sentences. This would apply even to teenagers 16 or over.

The planned legislation has led to a split in the Coalition as they are backed by Conservatives but not their Liberal Democrat colleagues.

 

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