The parents of Connor Brown have called for the courts to dish out tougher sentences after 21 people were arrested as part of a knife crackdown.

Simon Brown praised police for their efforts in the clampdown which also saw a number of weapons taken from the streets.

But he said the police and families are still being "let down" because there "was no deterrent" for knife criminals as the courts are "handing out lenient sentences".

Connor, 18, suffered fatal stab wounds after he was attacked in an alleyway near Sunderland's Gatsby's pub in February last year.

Leighton Barrass, 20, was jailed for a minimum of 20 years for murder.

Ally Gordon, also 20, was sentenced to three and a half years for manslaughter, with a bid to have his sentence increase failing just a few weeks ago.

Connor's dad, Simon, condemned the 21 people who were arrested for knife-related offences in the North East in the recent Northumbria Police crackdown, but said the punishment must fit the crime.

He said: “It is quite shocking but to be honest does not surprise me.

“I feel sorry for Northumbria Police. They are doing a brilliant job putting all their time and effort into it and then to be let down by the courts.

“There is no deterrent as the courts are handing out lenient sentences.

The knives and weapons seized by Northumbria Police
The knives and weapons seized by Northumbria Police

“There should be a relevant sentence to go with it rather than a ticking off.”

Connor's family is now in the process of starting a charitable trust, helping to fund work to prevent knife crime in the community around their Sunderland home.

As part Operation Spectre, police seized 18 knives and weapons that included a claw hammer, stun gun and machete.

In September last year a knife surrender was held with the force recovering 326 blades, including knuckle duster knives, samurai swords and Gurkha knives.

Simon issued a stark message to anyone who was thinking of carrying a knife.

He said: “I think it shouldn’t be questioned, don’t do it. The message is plain and simple.”