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PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITIES: VIOLENT CRIME REDUCTION BILL PUBLISHED

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Home Office minister Hazel Blears today announced a comprehensive package...
Home Office minister Hazel Blears today announced a comprehensive package

of measures today to combat violent crime.

The Violent Crime Reduction Bill will ensure that police and local

communities have the necessary powers to reduce violent crimes

involving imitation guns, knives and alcohol in their neighbourhood.

The Bill includes new powers to ban the manufacture and sale of

imitation firearms and toughen sentences for carrying imitation

firearms, increase the age limit for purchasing to a knife to 18 and

ban those individuals responsible for alcohol-related violence from

specific areas for up to two years.

Ms Blears said:

'There is increasing public concern around relatively low level crime

and anti-social behaviour escalating to more serious offences because

people are under the influence of alcohol or carrying weapons.

Outlawing the manufacture and sale of imitation firearms, clamping

down on binge and underage drinking and ensuring knives are less

accessible will help to tackle this.

The Bill would:

* Make it illegal to manufacture or sell imitation firearms that

could be mistaken for real firearms;

* Bring in higher sentences for carrying imitation firearms;

* Create tougher manufacturing standards to ensure that imitation

firearms can't be converted to fire real ammunition;

* Increase the age limit for buying or firing an air weapon without

supervision from 17 to 18;

* Make it an offence to use other people to hide or carry guns or

knives;

* Increase the age limit for purchasing a knife from 16 to 18;

* Introduce powers for head-teachers and other members of staff to

search pupils for knives;

* Introduce Alcohol Disorder Zones which will require licensed

premises to contribute to the cost of alcohol-related disorder in

specific areas where it has been identified as a problem.

* Exclude individuals responsible for alcohol-related disorder from

certain areas and licensed premises by imposing 'Drinking Banning

Orders' which could run for up to two years;

* Create powers for police to ban the sale of alcohol at licensed

premises for up to 48-hours for selling alcohol to under 18's; and

* Provide police with the power to exclude individuals at risk of

carrying out alcohol-related disorder from a specific area for up to

48 hours.

Schools minister Jacqui Smith welcomed the Bill saying:

'Real progress has been made in tackling serious bad behaviour in

schools and most pupils never carry knives on school grounds. But

there are a few who ignore the fact that it is against the law to

have a knife in school. This is unacceptable, and we want to ensure

that head teachers have the necessary powers to enforce good

discipline in the classroom.'

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell said:

'The measures in the Violent Crime Reduction Bill are a key part in

the fight against alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder.

'They complement the new licensing laws, which will help eradicate

trouble flashpoints through ending fixed closing, give the police

tougher powers to deal with trouble venues and provide greater

protection for children and local communities.'

Notes

1. The Violent Crime Reduction Bill was published today and will be

available at www.parliament.uk

2. Copies of 'Drinking Responsibly: The Government's Proposals'

announced on 21 January 2005 can be viewed from

http:www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/alcoholrelatedcrime/index.html

3. The Connected programme is part of the Home Office's strategy to

tackle gun crime and gun culture through working with community

groups. Further details can be found at

http:www.connected.gov.uk/index.html

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