The Scottish Police Federation, the body representing ordinary police officers up to the rank of chief inspector, has called for a “more sophisticated response” in dealing with knife crime.
The secretary general of the Federation, Calum Steele, said: “The motivation to carry a knife may be influenced by jailing all carriers, but the motivation to use a knife demands a more sophisticated response.”
The vast majority of knife crimes occur within the home, rendering Labour’s policy of mandatory sentences for carrying knives in the street ineffective as a means of reducing the number of victims of knife crime. Knives are not involved in the majority of murders committed in Scotland.
Mr Steele noted: “It remains a stubborn truth that too many murders occur in areas where the police have little ability to patrol and influence behaviour, such as the family home. As important as it is, a focus on knives in public will not address that.”
The Scottish Police Federation made a call for 1,000 extra police officers at its annual conference held before the 2007 Scottish election. The SNP government met its 2007 manifesto commitment to provide the extra officers. Alex Salmond is due to address the SPF’s 2011 conference in Aviemore today, Tuesday.
Mr Steele added: “It comes as no surprise to us that the greatest reduction in crime has come about since we made that call, and Scotland’s police numbers were boosted in accordance with our now clearly evidenced and justifiable demands.”
The recorded crime rate in Scotland has now fallen to its lowest level for 32 years, and knife crime is down by 30%.
The SNP is committed to maintaining the extra police numbers. Speaking ahead of his speech to the Scottish Police Federation conference in Aviemore, Mr Salmond said:
“Only the SNP can be trusted to keep the record numbers of police officers we now have in Scotland, who have helped drive crime down to its lowest level in 32 years, including a reduction in knife crime of 30 per cent.
“More needs to be done to continue the progress we are making, and keep driving these figures down, which is why it is important that the SNP Government are re-elected. Communities the length and breadth of Scotland want to be reassured that the improvements we have seen in law and order these last four years will not be put at risk.
“Only the SNP offer that reassurance. Keeping those 1,000 extra police on the streets is one of out top manifesto commitments, and a re-elected SNP Government will prioritise bobbies on the beat to make Scotland safer.”