More than a third of repeat knife offenders in Thames Valley were spared an immediate jail sentence last year.

New figures show across England and Wales nearly four in 10 people who were caught with a knife or offensive weapon for at least the second time were not sent to jail.

The Ben Kinsella Trust, which campaigns against knife crime, said victims are left “feeling like they haven't received the justice they deserve”.

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It comes as the Oxford Mail has launched an anti-knife campaign following recent stabbings in the city which aims to raise awareness of how the crime can be prevented.

Ministry of Justice figures show 132 repeat knife offenders aged over 18 in Thames Valley went through the criminal justice system in the year ending September 2023.

The majority, 129 out of 132, were found in possession of a knife, while the remainder were convicted of threatening offences.

Witney Gazette: Police in Manzil Way after a suspected stabbing on March 14 Police in Manzil Way after a suspected stabbing on March 14 (Image: NQ)Of those, 38 per cent avoided immediate custody and were only cautioned or given a community or a suspended sentence instead.

Police force level figures could include both previous possession and threatening offences.

It comes as Oxford has seen a number of knife-related incidents this year with police reassuring the public there is no wider threat to the community after the reports of a man in his 20s being stabbed close to Isis Lock earlier this week.

However, the force says there has been a 14 per cent reduction in knife-enabled crime over the past 12 complete months in Oxford compared with the same period for the year before.

Nationally, 4,127 adults were found guilty of a repeat possession offence.

Of them, 62 per cent were sent to jail immediately – a significant fall from 71 per cent in 2018, three years after a new policy on repeat offenders was launched.

In 2015, the ‘two-strike’ rule was introduced, which promised adults convicted of carrying knives would face an automatic six-month prison sentence after their second conviction.

In the year to September 2018, 29 per cent walked free from jail but this went up to 38 per cent last year.

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In Thames Valley, 32 of 111 repeat criminals were spared jail six years ago, a smaller proportion than in 2023.

Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust, said: “The Government’s ‘two-strike’ policy was presented as an important intervention in the fight against knife crime, promising to deter potential offenders and deliver justice for victims.

“Yet, the data paints a disturbing picture where four out of 10 repeat offenders are walking free. The Ben Kinsella Trust emphasises that this inconsistency between policy and practice undermines the very purpose of the two-strike rule.

“It fails to deliver a strong deterrent effect and leaves victims feeling like they haven't received the justice they deserve.”

The policy also applied to young offenders, with those aged 16 and 17 said to face a minimum four-month detention and training order.

Across England and Wales, there were 273 young offenders, 101 of whom were sentenced to an immediate custody.

A government spokesperson said: “While sentencing is for independent courts, our latest figures show more knife-carrying criminals are being sent to jail and for longer than a decade ago.”