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Helen McEntee and James Browne announcing the changes today Jane Matthews
Knife Crime

Government to increase sentences for crimes involving knives

More than 2,100 knives were seized by gardaí in 2022.


GOVERNMENT HAS APPROVED plans to amend legislation that will increase the maximum sentences for offences relating to knife crime.

This comes as statistics show seizures and assaults with a bladed weapon are on the rise.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the proposed sentence increases are to protect younger people impacted by knife crime, as more than 2,100 knives were seized in 2022 while number of people treated for knife injuries in 2019 was 9% higher than in 2018.

The memo, which was brought forward to Cabinet today, plans to increase the maximum sentences for possessing a knife with intent to cause injury, or trespassing with a knife, or intimidating with a knife from five to seven years.

McEntee and Minister of State in the Department of Justice James Browne, have also received Cabinet sign-off on plans to increase maximum sentence for the manufacture, importation or sale of non-firearm offensive weapons from seven to 10 years.

Both increases are as a result of recommendations given to the Department of Justice by a forum of gardaí, probation officers and other, related Government departments, as well as community members impacted by knife crime and experts.

McEntee said that the State are ensuring that the penalties match the seriousness of knife crime, as well as following the recommendations given to them by the Anti-Social Behaviour Forum.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Minister McEntee said knife crime has been a small and incremental problem here in Ireland and is not seen on the same scale as places like London and Glasgow. 

She said the measures announced today are preventative in approach.

“This is about making sure the punishment matches the crime. At the moment, simple possession for a knife is five years. Possession with intent is also five years. So what is happening here is we’re increasing the sentence to match the crime that’s been committed here,” McEntee said.

When asked by The Journal if she believes the Government is doing enough when it comes to early intervention and youth engagement to prevent potential knife-related crime, Minister McEntee made the point that funding for youth diversion programmes has doubled to almost €33m. 

She added that the Government is also working to target younger children who currently fall outside the scope of youth diversion services.

The memos come after McEntee earlier this month secured €93 million in funding in order to increase the capacity in Irish prisons by 670 additional spaces.

Population figures, published yesterday, show most prisons in Ireland are currently over their recommended capacity.

Additionally, the number of people on temporary release, which The Journal previously reported was being used to alleviate overcrowding, has reached a record high.

McEntee said this month, before the announcement of today’s proposal to increase maximum sentences, that the increased capacity would ensure there were enough spaces to hold those who commit crime.

Includes reporting by Jane Matthews.

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