An adult caught in possession of a knife was fined just £1, official figures revealed today.
Campaigners condemned Ministry of Justice statistics which showed more than 1,000 offenders in England and Wales were given fines for carrying a knife in a single year.
Fines were dished out to one in 20 knife carriers sentenced in 2007.
The £1 fine was handed out in 2004, while last year offenders were fined as little as £10.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne accused the Government of "posturing" on knife crime penalties while an anti-crime charity described the punishments as a "slap in the face".
Mr Huhne said: "There is a massive disparity between what the Government say and what the court system does.
"If we are serious about tackling knife crime, then we must send a strong message to knife carriers. These pitiful fines do not do that.
"The Liberal Democrats want to see justice being done, not tough talk that is just empty words."
Lyn Costello, from Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, said: "It's disgusting.
"People ask 'who's to blame' and in this situation we have to blame the courts.
"If £1 is what they think is a sensible fine it's ridiculous - it's making the whole justice system a laughing stock.
"It's a slap in the face for families of victims, campaigners and the police.
"Unless we all work together nothing is going to change."
She said a message needed to be sent out to young people that they would be severely punished for breaking the law and claimed anyone who said they carried a knife for protection was lying.
"The truth is they carry knives to intimidate, to rob people and for all the wrong reasons," she said.
"Are we going to end up in a world where the streets become ruled by those that carry knives and those that don't hide indoors?
"What we need to do is turn that round and make them have respect for the law."
The figures, which were revealed in answers to written Parliamentary questions, showed 21,350 adults were given a caution or sentence for carrying a bladed weapon in 2007.
A total of 1,187 offenders were given fines, averaging £156.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "Carrying a knife is a serious offence, and the Government is determined that those who are caught with a knife face the consequences.
"Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the courts - this is a cornerstone of our justice system - but the latest figures show more and more people are going to jail, and going to jail for longer.
"Less than 4 per cent of offenders receive a fine for possession of a knife or offensive weapon, compared with 20 per cent who are immediately sent to jail."Reuse content