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Knife Crime Prevention Orders - Government promises new measures to tackle knife crime

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The new Conservative government has announced plans to crack down on knife crime, with the Queen’s speech setting out their goal to “ensure those charged with knife possession face swift justice”.

While the government has not yet gone into detail about any specific measures to achieve this goal, it would build on the introduction earlier this year of Knife Crime Prevention Orders, designed to help tackle increasing levels of knife crime in the UK.

What are Knife Crime Prevention Orders?

Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) were created by the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, which became law in May 2019, with the aim of stopping young people from carrying knives and becoming involved with serious violence. They are civil orders that can be issued by a court in response to an application by the police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The exact terms of a KCPO will depend on the circumstances, but in general they are designed to prohibit the subject of the order from doing things such as:

  • Being in certain places (either entirely or at specific times)
  • Associating with particular people
  • Taking part in certain activities
  • Using the internet to facilitate or encourage crimes involving bladed weapons

Knife Crime Prevention Orders are intended to be a preventative measure, rather than a punishment. Therefore, they will also usually involve the requirement by the subject to carry out certain positive actions, such as taking part in:

  • Educational courses
  • Life skills programmes
  • Sports
  • Targeting Intervention programmes
  • Counselling
  • Drug rehabilitation
  • Anger management classes
  • Mentoring

How long does a Knife Crime Prevention Order last?

A KCPO will usually take effect from the day it is made and the Order will state how long it will last for. This will be a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 2 years.

Who can be issued with a KCPO?

They can be issued to anyone over the age of 12 who is thought to be at risk of becoming involved with violent crime using knives or other bladed weapons.

There are two circumstances where an application for a KPCO might be made:

  1. Upon conviction of a crime.
  2. Where you have not been convicted of a crime, but are considered at risk of becoming involved in knife crime.

Applications for a Knife Crime Prevention Order upon conviction for a crime

An application can be made by the CPS where a person has been convicted of a knife crime and prosecutors believe that the defendant may be at risk of further offending involving serious knife-related violence.

The offence concerned must have involved either:

  • Violence or the threat of violence, or
  • A knife or other bladed weapon being used or carried by the defendant or someone else involved in the offence.

KPCO applications other than on conviction for a crime

A KCPO can also be applied for by the police where they believe that a person who has not yet been convicted of any crime might become involved in violent knife crime without the right intervention.

Examples might include where someone is spending time in the company of a gang or other group of known criminals with a history of using violence. In such cases, the defendant will need to have been found to have a knife or other ‘bladed article’ in their possession at least twice.

Will I be issued with a Knife Crime Prevention Order on conviction for crime?

For a court to issue a KPCO on conviction for a crime, it is the civil standard of proof that must be met i.e. that the court is convinced on ‘the balance of probabilities’ that an offence has been committed.

This means that the court considers it more likely than not that a crime has been committed, which is different from the stricter criminal standard of proof, where it must be shown ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ that a crime was committed.

The offence for which the defendant has been convicted must also be a relevant offence i.e. one involving violence, the threat of violence or the defendant or someone else involved in the crime using or carrying a bladed article.

A court cannot automatically issue a KPCO on conviction for a relevant crime – the prosecution will need to make an application for the order. There will need to be evidence why an order is appropriate, usually supplied by the police.

A court will only issue a KPCO where they believe it is necessary to:

  • Protect the public or particular people (including the defendant) from the risk of physical or psychological harm, and/or
  • To prevent the defendant from committing an offence using a bladed article

Can I be issued with a Knife Crime Prevention Order if I haven’t committed a crime?

Yes, a court can issue a KPCO even if you have not been convicted of a crime, however, it can only do so under specific circumstances.

To issue a KPCO other than on conviction for an offence, the court must be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities (i.e. the civil standard of proof), that the person the application is being made with respect to has:

  • On two or more occasions had a bladed article with them in a public place, school or further educational premises
  • That they had no good reason or lawful authority for this
  • That this happened within the previous two years (up to the date of the application)

As with an application for a KCPO on conviction for a crime, the court will only issue a KPCO where it believes it is necessary to:

  • Protect the public or particular people (including the defendant) from the risk of physical or psychological harm, and/or
  • To prevent the defendant from committing an offence using a bladed article

What does it mean if you are issued with a Knife Crime Prevention Order?

In simple terms, it means that police or the CPS believe you are at risk of involvement in knife-related violence. It also means that they think this can potentially be avoided if you take the right actions with the right supervision.

If you are issued with a KCPO, you will be required to stick to the terms of the order. The order will also specify an individual or organisation that is responsible for ensuring you comply. This will typically be someone like a police officer, Youth Offending Team member or youth worker.

As the subject of a KPCO, it will be your responsibility to maintain contact with the responsible person or organisation, including letting them know your address and if you change address.

The terms of the order should be explained to you in plain English, so you are clear exactly what you need to do and not to do to comply with it. If you are under 18, the KCPO must be issued to you in the presence of an appropriate adult e.g. a parent, guardian or social worker.

While a KCPO is in effect, you will normally need to attend one or more review hearings where a court will decide whether the order should be varied or discharged. At these hearings, the court can potentially add additional conditions or remove existing ones from the Order as they see fit.

What happens if you breach an KCPO?

If you have been issued with a Knife Crime Prevention Order, it is an offence to fail to comply with its terms without a reasonable excuse. It is also an offence to provide false information to the police in relation to an order.

The penalty for breaching a KCPO is:

  • Up to 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine if you are dealt with in Magistrates’ Court
  • Up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine if you are dealt with in Crown Court

How our criminal defence lawyers can help you with a Knife Crime Prevention Order

If the police or CPS have made an application for a KCPO against you, our criminal defence team can review the application and represent you in court proceedings. Using our detailed understanding of these orders and robust representation, we may be able to successfully oppose the application or argue for conditions that are less disruptive to your life than those sought by the police or CPS.

We can also advise on your right of appeal against a KCPO. If police or the CPS applied for a KPCO other than on conviction for an offence, it can be possible to see the order overturned with a successful appeal. If an application for KPCO has been made following your conviction for an offence, this can also sometimes be appealed, depending on the circumstances.

You may also have the right of appeal where an application has been made to vary or renew a KPCO, or where your application to vary or discharge an order has been refused.  

Where you have been made subject to a Knife Crime Prevention Order, we can advise you on the conditions of the order and what you need to do to avoid breaching it.

Our team can also represent you if you are accused of breaching an order.  Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to argue that there was no breach or, if there was, that there was a reasonable excuse.

When the time comes for a review hearing, we can help to prepare your case and represent you during the hearing, giving you the best chance of having the order discharged or having the conditions varied to be less restrictive.

Get immediate specialist legal advice about Knife Crime Prevention Orders or a knife crime arrest

If you have been issued with a Knife Crime Prevention Order, have been arrested for breach of a KCPO, or are facing any other criminal charges related to possession of a knife, we can help.

Please contact us 24-hours a day, seven days a week for an immediate free initial consultation, expert legal advice and representation.

Our highly experienced criminal defence lawyers offer:

  • 24/7 legal support in person and over the phone, 365 days a year
  • Representation anywhere in England or Wales
  • Accredited Police Station Representatives to support you during a police interview
  • Clear, effective legal advice in any language (see our languages spoken)
  • Local offices in London, Birmingham or Manchester

If you need immediate advice and representation in relation to a Knife Crime Prevent Order or a knife crime arrest, please use our emergency contact numbers:

Birmingham – 07891 777090
Brent – 07836 577556
Camden – 07836 577556
Manchester – 07798 701339

If you believe your case is likely to have serious consequences for you now, or in the future, and you have the means to pay for this service please read more about our bespoke private fee service.

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