Police could be given powers to stop and search people with knife convictions without the need for further suspicion, under new government plans.
The Home Office says it wants to use serious violence reduction orders (SVROs) to increase the chances of repeat offenders being caught and imprisoned.
Courts would get powers to grant the orders on people convicted of carrying an offensive weapon, even if they have not received custodial or immediate prison sentences.
Police facing heightened hostility and anger as tensions rise over stop and search
Under current stop and search laws, police must have “reasonable grounds” to carry out the search, such as suspecting someone is carrying drugs or a weapon.
But the SVRO would become the sole basis for the search for the duration of the court order if the plans are approved.
Those with an order who are caught reoffending would then likely receive a jail term under existing “two strikes” legislation.
An eight-week public consultation on the proposals was launched by the Home Office on Monday.
Crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse said: “Our ambition is for these new powers to transform the way stop and search is used by targeting the small number of the most serious and persistent criminals.”
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said knife crime and reoffending had risen under Tory governments as an “inevitable consequence of deep cuts to the police and preventive services”.
“A range of actions are needed to tackle repeat offending, with a strategy that carries the confidence of all our communities, not simply a public consultation on piecemeal measures,” the Labour MP added.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael called for a return to “community policing”.
“A targeted approach can only work if police officers have the trust and confidence they need to identify the weapon-carriers in their communities,” he added.
The government is making a number of announcements on law and order, amid widespread condemnation for its threat to break international law over Brexit.
It comes after ministers also announced that long-promised legislation to give life sentences to drivers who kill someone in the most serious cases will be introduced to Parliament next year.