New measures to tackle violent crime introduced

New measures aimed at tackling gun and knife crime have come into force.

Under the new measures, part of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, it is now an offence to use someone to hide or carry a weapon, with a maximum sentence of four years in the case of knives and ten years in the case of guns.

The range of offences for which an offender can be given a mandatory minimum five-year sentence is also being extended. Until now, the minimum sentence only applied to the offence of simply possessing a prohibited firearm, but it will now apply to a wider range of possession offences, including possession of a firearm with intent to injure; possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence; use of a firearm to resist arrest; carrying a firearm with criminal intent; carrying a firearm in a public place; and trespassing in a building with a firearm.

It is now also an offence to buy or sell a primer - a key component of ammunition - unless legal requirements are met.

The Act also contains measures covering anti-social alcohol drinking, mobile phone theft and football hooliganism.

Police and trading standards officers will have new powers to penalise licensed premises that sell alcohol to under-eighteens. If a venue is found to have sold alcohol to minors three times within a three-month period they will now face suspension of their license for three months, along with a fine of up to £10,000.

Regarding mobile phones, it is now an offence to re-programme or "unblock" a mobile phone with offenders facing up to five years in jail and an unlimited fine.

Two football banning orders, which were due to expire in August, have also been made permanent.

The orders allow police to require known troublemakers to surrender their passports five days prior to an overseas match or tournament.

The maximum period of a banning order will also be increased from three to five years and powers to apply for banning orders have also been extended to the Crown Prosecution Service and the British Transport Police.

Police will also be able to make the case for a banning order based on complaint (such as using overseas police footage of misbehaviour as evidence) rather than just conviction of a football-related offence.

Ticket touting laws have also been extended to cover the sale of unauthorised football match tickets on the internet, which carries a maximum fine of £5,000.

It is also now illegal to advertise the unauthorised sale of match tickets.

Commenting on the new measures, Home Secretary John Reid said: "The government's priority is to give police and communities the tools they need to tackle violent crime. These new powers will enable police to better tackle gun and knife crime as well as alcohol-related disorder.

"After listening to community concerns on knives and guns, I decided to bring forward the use of these measures as a matter of urgency. These new powers are the latest step, an example of how the government is working to make us all safer, putting the interests of ordinary people first."


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