ANTI-KNIFE campaigner and bereaved dad John Johnson has blasted the Government for failing to get tough on those caught carrying blades.
Mr Johnson, whose son Kevin was stabbed to death outside his Pennywell home in May 2007, has slammed figures that reveal just a fraction of those caught carrying knives have been put behind bars.
Despite the Government pledging to get tough on knife-wielding criminals, figures reveal that of the 5,228 caught with a knife or bladed weapon between January and March, only 327 were put behind bars for six months or longer.
Mr Johnson, who campaigns against softer sentencing, said: “I am incensed that campaign groups up and down the country are being betrayed by David Cameron and his so called Ministry of Justice.
“When Labour was in power the Conservatives announced they would get tough on street crime.
“Last year, when it was announced that sentencing for carrying a knife or bladed weapon was to go up from a maximum of two years to a maximum of four years, campaign groups thought we were finally being listened to as a result of the pressure being put on them.
“But it turns out that they are just playing mind games with us all.”
The latest figures released by the Ministry of Justice reveal that despite sentencing guidelines set in 2008 recommending 12 weeks’ custody for the lowest level of knife possession, just 19 per cent of those caught between January and March were jailed.
This is a 23 per cent drop from both last year and the year before.
“The Government has a duty to protect the public from such criminals but the actions towards criminals is a trend which should not be allowed to continue,” John said.
“This sort of message will in fact promote the carrying of weapons and more and more families will suffer as a consequence.
“Having lost my youngest son to knife crime, these false promises that Cameron made are a slap in the face to all campaigners and an insult to our lost loved ones.”
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for our independent courts, as only they have the full facts in front of them.”
Figures have also shown that last year across Sunderland a total of 83 knife attacks were recorded by police.
Temporary Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth said: “It’s important to recognise that we do not have the same problem with knife crime as experienced in other parts of the country and we work to ensure effective enforcement and education keeps it that way.
“Earlier this year, officers visited schools across Sunderland to talk to Year 10 pupils about the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife and encourage them to tell us if they know someone who is carrying a knife.”
Police also run Operation Jaws, which has seen knife arches put up at pubs and clubs. Knife wands are also used at locations across the city.