Violent crime act extended

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Amendments to the Violent Crime Reduction Act have now come into force, granting the police and communities stronger power in tackling violent offenders.

The new provisions cover crimes concerning guns and knives, alcohol, mobile phones and football hooliganism.

From today onwards it is an offence to use someone else to carry a weapon, with minors and adults doing so risking jail sentences of up to four and ten years respectively.

Previously suspects known to police to be using other people to, unwittingly or not, transport guns or knives were not liable for prosecution.

In addition, it is now illegal to sell primer – a key component of ammunition – unless the purchaser has a valid firearms certificate.

"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," home secretary John Reid commented.

"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."

A crackdown on underage drinking is included in the new act, with police able to impose a suspension and a £10,000 fine upon licensed premises caught selling alcohol to under-18s three times in a three-month period.

Football banning orders are also to be enshrined in the statute book, allowing police to continue to force known hooligans to surrender their passports up to five days before a tournament or individual match overseas.

And finally, from today onwards it is an offence to re-programme a mobile phone, with those found guilty liable to a five-year jail spell and an unlimited fine.

Mr Reid says the new measures are part of the government's "progress" in cutting violent crime, insisting that overall crime had fallen 35 per cent in Labour's ten years in power.

"However, we are not complacent and we recognise that more needs to be done to protect the public. The measures which come into force today build on the solid foundations laid by the government to tackle violent crime and disorder on our streets," he concluded.

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