Northampton would be 'a viable place' to pilot ASBO-style sanctions for knife crime aimed at children as young as 12

Children as young as 12 could be banned from social media and be curfewed under a knife crime prevention order.
Children as young as 12 could be banned from social media and be curfewed under a knife crime prevention order.

New ASBO-style police powers to sanction children as young as 12 on suspicion of carrying knives would be 'welcome' in Northampton, a borough council cabinet member has said.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced this week (January 31) his plans for Knife Crime Prevention Orders to target anyone aged 12 or over suspected of knife crime involvement, even if they are not caught with a blade.

Councillor Anna King at the launch of the 'Save Lives, No Knives' campaign.

Councillor Anna King at the launch of the 'Save Lives, No Knives' campaign.

The sanctions could include curfews, barring them from social media and banning them from meeting up with other members of their suspected gang.

Anyone who breaches the order could face up to two years imprisonment.

Although yet to be approved, the plans have been welcomed by Northampton Borough Council's cabinet member for community safety Anna King - who even pitched that Northampton could be used to 'pilot' the new powers.

She said: "This announcement is extremely welcome. I believe these can either stop people from carrying knives or stop young people think about carrying knives. As early as 12, young people are influenced by what they see and how older children act.

Councillor Danielle Stone agrees Northampton could be used to trial the scheme - but warns that it could 'punish and not protect' children.

Councillor Danielle Stone agrees Northampton could be used to trial the scheme - but warns that it could 'punish and not protect' children.

"I think it's something we would definitely look to trial."

Councillor King helped launch the 'Save Lives, No Knives' campaign for Northamptonshire in June 2018 to give children a place to turn to talk about crime and gangs.

It is already a crime to carry a blade in public without good reason - and there is a separate offence of taking a knife into a school.

But opposition leader Danielle Stone [Lab., Castle ward] says the council needs to be careful to "to protect and not punish" Northampton's children.

She said: "Of course we need to disperse gang activity, but I don't want to see groups unduly affected by this in the same way black youths are affected by stop and search powers.

"Knife crime is a serious problem in Northampton and I would be happy to have a pilot opportunity with Northampton to see if it's viable. But I wonder if this would protect young people or would it punish them?"

Nationally, critics say the new powers risked criminalising young people.

It comes as the borough council aims to have every Year 6 class in the town take part in a safety conference about the dangers of gangs and knives.

Councillor King said: "Year 6 is a crucial time to engage about gangs because they have the long summer holiday between Year 6 and secondary school where they are susceptible to influence by older children and gangs."

One of these community safety partnership conferences will be held at the Deco Theatre on Tuesday (February 5).