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UK Knife Crackdown: Hospitalizations Down, Jail Sentences Up

A British campaign to crack down on stabbings is working, according to a March 12 report from the Ministry of Justice that covered the final quarter of 2008. Citing National Health Service statistics, the BBC reported there were 4,899 hospital admissions for "assault by sharp object" from December 2007 to November 2008, 8.43 percent fewer than the previous year, and admissions of teen-agers declined from 1,159 to 995 during the period.

The ministry's report showed more people were jailed in England and Wales in 2008 than in 2007 for possessing a knife or offensive weapon. The number of individuals given immediate jail sentences for possession rose by 23 percent, to 1,386, in the October-December 2008 quarter. Immediate sentences represented 21 percent of the total apprehensions for knives and offensive weapons during the quarter, versus 17 percent during all of 2007.

By way of comparison, the UK recorded 229 workplace fatalities in 2008, a rate of 0.8 per 100,000 workers, and 299,000 reportable injuries, a rate of 1,000 per 100,000 workers.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said knife apprehensions were down by 10 percent in the 10 regions targeted by the government's Tackling Knives Action Programme started in October 2008, but they declined by 5 percent elsewhere, according to the BBC report, which cited the latest NHS research.

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