Sir: The murder of brave headmaster Philip Lawrence ("Knife curbs to follow head's killing", 11 December) and the stabbing to death of a supermarket security guard demonstrate clearly that stronger sentences are needed to punish the carrying of knives. Yet what use will a higher maximum penalty be if judges and magistrates already impose extremely lenient sentences vastly below the legal maximum or, worse still, the police continue to caution knife-carrying teenagers?
As a 16-year-old student at a reputable public school, I was saddened but not surprised to hear of the recent murders. The carrying of offensive knives by even young teenage males is now almost the norm, in my experience, both as a symbol of strength and for "defence".
Some time ago I saw a boy waving two opened flick-knives around in a changing room before a physical education lesson. He warned me of serious consequences if I were to report the matter, but I did so anyway, expecting firm action to be taken. The school notified the local police who merely cautioned the boy, and I faced harassment at school for several weeks afterwards.
Magistrates, judges, school governors, teachers, police officers and the Government must all realise the need to take a tough stance against all acts of violence, bullying, intimidation and aggression.
Parliament must impose minimum sentences for carrying obviously offensive knives, and the sale of such knives should be banned. The police should carry out more searches, particularly of persons stopped for other matters, and all those who carry knives should be prosecuted.
Alan T. Bates