Knife carrying down 35 per cent

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GENERAL…
Knife carrying has dropped by 35 per cent during the period of a campaign designed to educate young people about the dangers of carrying knives, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced today.

The No Knives, Better Lives campaign was launched as a pilot in Inverclyde in June 2009, targeting young people in the area through a series of innovative education initiatives designed to get the message across about the dangers of carrying knives.

Now, new figures show that there has been a substantial drop in knife carrying amongst young people across Inverclyde.

The news comes as the latest phase of activity from the successful No Knives, Better Lives initiative is stepped up in Inverclyde this week, and the initiative has recently been rolled out to other communities across Scotland.

Paying tribute to the figures and the efforts of the whole community, Mr MacAskill said that the latest statistics show that the tactics of combining education with tough enforcement on the streets were having a real impact.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“Like other parts of the country, Inverclyde has suffered from a knife culture that blights too many communities in Scotland. Lives have been lost and too many families torn apart through acts of violence. We want to do everything we can to stop it and Scotland’s law enforcement agencies are united in a shared aim of putting an end to knife crime wherever and whenever it occurs. We are taking tough action on the streets through a record number of stop and searches, and we are backing this up with education in our communities to change the culture amongst some young men and women.

“The No Knives, Better Lives campaign has been a real success already in Inverclyde with the whole community pulling together to get the message across to young people about the dangers of knives and these latest statistics show that those efforts to tackle knife crime through a combination of education backed by tough enforcement are paying off.

“A 35% reduction in knife carrying during the period of the No Knives, Better Lives campaign is a real achievement of which the whole community can be proud, and we hope to now build upon this success by rolling the initiative out to other communities across Scotland.

“The battle to stop knife crime begins by changing the attitudes of young men and women in Scotland, and the successful tactics deployed in Inverclyde will now be used as a template for others to follow. Education is key and the experiences from Inverclyde demonstrate how important it can be. We now hope to make similar strides forward in other communities as the scheme is rolled out.

“We cannot and will not be complacent however, and there will be no let up in our efforts to tackle knife crime across the country.”

Strathclyde Police’s Area Commander for Inverclyde, Chief Inspector Graeme MacDiarmid, added: “The No Knives Better Lives campaign has played an integral part in our fight against knife crime and targeting knife carriers in Inverclyde. Educating and changing the attitudes of how the young feel about knives is paramount in achieving any real long-term success.

“Running in tandem with this successful education programme, my Officers have focused on targeting both known knife carriers, and hot spot areas where knife crime is prevalent. Never before have Police Officers in Inverclyde carried out so many searches for weapons, yet at the same time found so few. We will continue with this robust and firm style of Policing and continue to tackle all aspects of Violence in Inverclyde.”

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Earlier this month, Scottish Government statistics showed that the number of people carrying an offensive weapon in Scotland was at its lowest level in a decade.

Latest figures from Strathclyde police reveal there has been a 35 per cent reduction of knife carrying in the Inverclyde area between June 2009 and October 2010. The same period has also seen a record high for stop and search procedures carried out by Strathclyde police in the local area.