In June 2011 the Government pledged that any adult convicted of using a knife to threaten someone would face a mandatory six month prison sentence. However, as residents in Enfield and across London know only too well, it is a sad fact that a high number of those using knives are under the age of 18.
Nick led a campaign in the constituency and in Parliament seeking to amend the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to ensure that mandatory custodial sentences would also apply to those under 18 years of age. The Government opposed this idea.
Supported by the Enfield Independent, residents, anti-knife crime groups, David Burrowes MP and Conservative councillors, the campaign gained national attention. In November 2011 the agreed to back Nick's amendment so that 16 and 17 year olds would be included in the plans.
Because of the way the campaign for this groundbreaking change had come from Enfield, the new law has been dubbed "Enfield's Law". The borough can be proud that it has helped make a difference to the lives of young people and made our streets safer.
Nick has always argued that solving our knife crime problem cannot be done by laws alone and he is now focusing on working with local and national groups to help deter young people from a life dominated by gangs and in many cases knife crime. The all too familiar tragic outcome for so many young people demands that we do whatever we can to stop the culture of hopelessness, lack of responsibility and poor parenting that can lead young people into gangs and knife crime.
The government has set out a national strategy working to ensure that there are successful early intervention programmes, stronger judicial responses and integrated cross-government work which will help beat the scourge of knife crime.
Legislation to prevent youth knife crime in Britain that was championed by people in Enfield officially came into law today.
As of today, 3rd December, anyone aged 16 or over who uses a knife to threaten someone faces a mandatory six month prison sentence.
It follows Nick's efforts, backed by the Enfield Independent and local anti-knife crime campaigners, in seeking to amend the Government's Justice Bill. The 'Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill' had originally only sought to give minimum sentences to those over the age of 18, but a borough wide effort saw hundreds of signatures gained on a petition calling for 16 and 17 year olds to be included.
After Nick presented this to Parliament, MPs voted to approve an amendment tabled by the Enfield North MP on 2 November 2011. The leading role played by Nick de Bois and the borough's residents led to the new legislation being dubbed "Enfield's Law".
Nick de Bois said, "I'm delighted that Enfield's Law is now officially on the statute book, it will act as a strong deterrent. We of course need to match this with support for early intervention schemes and improvements in education, as a deterrent on its own is not enough. However, it is vital that people now know that if someone threatens them with a knife, that person will go to prison."
He added, "Achieving this new legislation is something we as a borough can be very proud. Last year people were looking at the riots in Enfield and were shaking their heads in shock and dismay. Now they can look at Enfield and nod in approval".
Last night, Nick's knife crime amendment because part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which received its Third Reading on the floor of the House of Commons. It will now pass on to the House of Lords for further scrutiny. Nick's amendment which will see the introduction of mandatory custodial sentences for individuals aged 16 or over, convicted of threatening or endangering life with a knife, was widely supported.
The Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke QC MP, praised Nick's efforts in gaining support for his amendment and his persistence in lobbying Members of Parliament and Government Ministers, calling it a "major reform of the criminal justice system".
David Burrowes MP, Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate, who helped develop the amendment with Nick addresses the House of Commons and explained how the proposal had developed through Enfield's experience with knife crime and how he expected it would act as a strong deterrent.
Following the legislation's Third Reading, Nick commented: "I'm glad that we're now one step closer to my amendment being on the statute books. The introduction of mandatory sentences for those aged over 16 will act as a strong deterrent. Quite simply, for the first time in the Youth Justice System, if you use a knife in a threatening or endangering fashion you will receive a custodial sentence. I wish to thank all those who have been involved in the campaign including the 42 Members of Parliament who backed the amendment; the Enfield Independent and their Don't Carry Don't Kill campaign; The Sun newspaper; Brook Kinsella; the Metropolitan Police Federation; S.T.O.P, TAG, Anti-Knife UK and the Nelson-Williams Foundation".
If you would like to read the full Third Reading debate in the House of Commons, you can do so by clicking here.
Following the Ministry of Justice's announcement that it will support Nick's amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, that will see anyone over the age of 16 receiving a mandatory custodial sentence for endangering or threatening life with a knife, Nick was invited onto the BBC's Daily Politics hosted by Andrew Neil.
While being interviewed Nick explained how his amendment is just one part of a larger campaign to tackle youth knife crime. He also talked about how he worked with other Members of Parliament, the Government and outside groups in order to convince the Government to back his proposals.
Last night, following weeks of negotiations, the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Secretary of State for Justice, announced his decision to support Nick's knife crime amendment which would see anyone over the age of 16 receiving a mandatory custodial sentence for endangering or threatening life with a knife.
Nick's campaign had support from Enfield Southgate MP David Burrowes and around 40 other Members of Parliament, The Sun, the Enfield Independent, the Metropolitan Police Federation and anti-Knife Crime campaigners including Brook Kinsella, S.T.O.P, Anti-Knife UK and TAGS.
Following the announcement Nick commented "I am glad the Government has taken the right decision and will now ensure there are strong deterrents against committing knife crime. Enfield is a prime example of where young people consider it acceptable to carry and use knives, often without the fear of being sent to prison. With the introduction of this amendment, young people who are convicted this new offence called aggravated carrying of a knife – which means they have used a knife to threaten or endanger life, will face a mandatory prison sentence. While I know this amendment will not solve the significant problem of knife crime it will become a valuable tool in the fight against it".
This afternoon Nick presented a petition signed by almost 700 Enfield residents calling for a new law to tackle youth knife crime.
It is hoped that this will give weight to amendment Nick has tabled to the Government's forthcoming Justice Bill. The Bill contains a proposal that an adult who uses a knife to threaten someone will get a mandatory prison sentence, and Nick's amendment would extend this to include 15, 16 and 17 year olds.
This has been supported by the Enfield Independent and a host of anti-knife crime campaign groups.
The Sun has today devoted more column inches to Nick's campaign calling for a tougher law to tackle youth knife crime.
Running the story for the second day in a row, page 9 highlights the appalling figure released by the Sentencing Council that 30% of people committing a "level one" offence - such as an unprovoked attack which leaves the victim seriously injured - are not being sent to prison.
The Government's upcoming Justice Bill will see a mandatory 6-month sentence for an adult convicted of using a knife to threaten or endanger a life.
Nick has tabled an amendment, supported by 40 MPs, which would extend the law to include 15, 16 and 17 year olds.
The Sun conducted a poll of its readers on this specific point, and found 86% supported the law being extended to include 15-17 year olds, with 6% against and 8% unsure.
While the campaign has now gone national, the local campaign continues to gain support with the Enfield Independent this week reporting Nick's call to the Prime Minister to support the amendment at PMQs.
Enfield North MP Nick de Bois has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to back his knife crime campaign.
Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions today, Mr. de Bois said over 40 MPs have now backed an amendment he has tabled to the Government's Justice Bill. The Bill currently sets out that those over the age of 18 convicted of using a knife to threaten or endanger a life will face a mandatory 6 month prison sentence, but Nick's amendment calls for under 18s to be included in the reform.
The "Don't carry, don't kill" campaign from the Enfield Independent supports the amendment which has enjoyed rapidly growing support from backbench Conservative MPs over the past few days.
Mr. de Bois asked the Prime Minister if he would support the amendment, which has been supported by hundreds of signatures from Enfield residents on a House of Commons petition that will presented to Parliament in the coming weeks.
David Cameron said he would be happy to look closely at the amendment.
On Monday 12th September 2011, Nick met with key representatives from voluntary organisations across the London area who are actively involved in the campaign to reduce the level of knife crime and knife related deaths in the UK. The combined experience of these groups is focused on helping young people avoid a life of crime, gangs and social disengagement. The meeting was facilitated by Enfield North resident, Tolu Williams, a member of Solve This Ongoing Problem (STOP) and involved the Enfield based Nelson-Williams Foundation, Anti-Knife UK, TAG, Gangline and the Strategic Alliance of Communities Rejecting Youth Destruction (SACRYD).
The group met not only to discuss the ever-growing problem of youth knife crime but also Nick's tabled amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which would see mandatory sentences introduced for anyone (including those aged under 18) who are convicted of using a knife to threaten or endanger a life. The members present pledged their support for the change in the law which they see as key to helping stop the growing knife crime culture.
Following the meeting, Nick commented "These groups show just how valuable the third sector can be in dealing with the problem of knife crime and the ever present problems of gangs and street violence. Whilst this meeting focussed on knife crime, we will work together to tackle many of the wider issues such as gangs and the associated problems such as gang rape. We held the first of what I hope will be many constructive meetings and was happy to hear that they supported my proposed amendment."
Today, Nick and fellow local Member of Parliament David Burrowes MP met with Rt Hon Ken Clarke QC MP, the Secretary of State for Justice to discuss the introduction of mandatory sentences for youths convicted of using a knife to threaten of endanger life.
While the Coalition Government's Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will introduce mandatory sentences for adults convicted of using a knife to threaten or endanger life, Nick has tabled an amendment which seeks to include those aged under 18 within the mandatory sentence guidelines.
Following the constructive meeting in the Secretary of State's office in the House of Commons, Nick commented "We need to be tough on knife crime and the introduction of mandatory sentences is a good step, but these mandatory sentences must apply to youths as well. We spoke at length with the Secretary of State and he conveyed his horror at the recent prevalence of youth related knife crime in the London Borough of Enfield. He appeared to take on board our comments and hopefully this will lead to my amendment being added to the Bill".
If you would like more information on Nick's amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill then please feel free to contact Nick by clicking here.
Nick is taking the campaign on youth knife crime another step further with a petition to the House of Commons, calling for the Government's tough new policies on knife crime to also apply to under 18s.