Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that he did not approve of “headline-grabbing” legal changes to knife-crime laws in the United Kingdom despite the death of schoolteacher Ann Maguire, who was stabbed in her classroom and passed away. While we may all condemn Mr. Clegg for his statement and apparent insensitivity, awarding six months of jail time for anybody found with a knife, even a penknife, is not really right.
But my opinion changed when Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and several supporters of the change indicated that without criminal intent, nobody, even cub scouts and tradesmen wielding penknifes, could be arrested for six months.
However, is it really fair to imprison someone for six months just for handling a knife and showing criminal intent? In this case, I support the changes, for as long as it is clear what criminal intent means in its clauses. But it has its flaws.
The Liberal Democratic party is right to say that the costs of cases will impact the legal system with the great influx of “second knife-crime cases.” The UK’s prison population is also growing in number, and it would be best to recommend the knife offenders to treatment and rehabilitation instead.
However, it cannot be helped that the Conservative party is trying to win over public affection by doing something for a heartbreaking case. Ann Maguire did not deserve to die, but nobody has the right to use her death for publicity.