Knives as deadly as guns, say stab victims' families

The devastated relatives of stabbing victims today launched an emotional campaign urging the Government to put knife crime on a par with gun crime.

The group, which includes the parents of murdered schoolboy Luke Walmsley, are calling on the Government to introduce a five-year minimum jail term for carrying an object with a blade longer than three inches.

They also want to see a six-month minimum jail term for carrying a blade shorter than three inches, or three months for juveniles.

Some parents today criticised the Government's action on knife crime, and the press conference at a central London hotel also heard of fears that civil unrest could result if spiralling violence was not controlled.

The group have set a three-month deadline for action, before they embark on "the largest petition this country has ever seen".

The Knives Destroy Lives campaign, led by the victims of Crime Trust, has written to Lord Chief Justice Woolf and Chief Constables and delivered a letter to Downing Street this morning, before heading to the House of Commons to meet MPs.

Michael Hegarty, brother of Bernard Hegarty, who was fatally stabbed in east London in August as he shopped for his new flat, said the family had been through torture since the architect was killed.

"They say total devastation but it doesn't come close. It is torture."

And he said he hoped the campaign would work.

"I hope so, I really do. Something needs to be done."