Scottish government rolls out knife crime initiative

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A campaign to make young people aware of the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife will be rolled out to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Clackmannanshire after a successful pilot.

No Knives, Better Lives has been running in Inverclyde since June 2009. Despite double the amount of police searches in the area, knife carrying went down 23 per cent during June 2009 to January 2010.


A campaign to make young people aware of the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife will be rolled out to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Clackmannanshire after a successful pilot.

No Knives, Better Lives has been running in Inverclyde since June 2009. Despite double the amount of police searches in the area, knife carrying went down 23 per cent during June 2009 to January 2010.

Incorporating youth diversionary activity, community engagement, social advertising and a structured programme in schools, No Knives, Better Lives is a multi-pronged campaign which aims to educate young people about the dangers of carrying a knife and the devastating personal consequences it can have on their future, as well as on their family and friends.

Starting this month No Knives, Better Lives will directly target young people in each of the new areas through tapping into a range of diversionary activities including football, music and creative events.

Later in the year, the campaign will see a local social marketing campaign, which depicts the life-changing choice between ‘knife or life’ that many young people face, targeted throughout the areas with work in local secondary schools kicking off after the October holidays.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
“The No Knives, Better Lives initiative has had a real impact in Inverclyde with 90 per cent of the local community seeing it as worth while.

“It is also incredibly encouraging that the local police have seen a 23 percent drop in the number of young people found carrying a knife despite an increase in the number of stop and searches in the area.

“We are working in partnership with the council, police, schools and young people in each area to create very local No Knives Better Lives campaigns that are tailored to each community and supporting the good work they are already doing.

“Far too many lives are lost and people injured though mindless acts of violence – often because of the knife culture that blights some communities. That is why we are working to change the culture around violence in Scotland.”

Over the summer No Knives, Better Lives will also be supporting youth diversionary activity in Renfrewshire. We will also continue to work with new and existing areas to identifying ways No Knives, Better Lives activity can be delivered locally.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, Head of the Violence Reduction Unit, said:
“Violence impacts on us all. No matter where we live, what we do or who we are, the far reaching consequences of violent behaviour will have an impact on our lives. That’s why it’s important that young people are taught about the dangers of violent behaviour and weapon carrying.

“Police across Scotland are working hard to tackle violence, but we cannot do it alone: it will take the efforts of everyone, from justice, health, education and a whole host of other areas before we can really begin to make an impact on the problem. That is why projects like no Knives Better Lives are so important.”

Councillor Jim Coleman, convenor of Glasgow Community and Safety Services, said:
“Glasgow Community and Safety Services is working in partnership with the No Knives, Better Lives campaign to educate young people on the dangers of carrying a knife.

“We will be delivering programmes in schools to raise awareness of the serious consequences of becoming involved in antisocial and criminal behaviour and this will go hand-in-hand with a series of mobile diversionary activities that will take place throughout the city.

“Violence and crime have a serious impact on our communities, and we need to work together to send a clear message to the small minority who break the law that their behaviour will not be tolerated in our society.”

Councillor Paul Edie, Community Safety Leader at the City of Edinburgh Council, said:
“The No Knives Better Lives campaign is a great initiative for the city as it sends out the message that this type of serious criminal behaviour will not be tolerated on our doorstep. The programme will also reach out to young people and peer groups to highlight the fact, that carrying an offensive weapon is completely unacceptable. We will also be working with the wider community to reassure them that we are looking into the contributory factors which lead to these offences taking place, and if we all stand together – the majority of this type of crime can be stamped out for good.”

Chief Inspector Bob Hutchison, Deputy Area Commander for Clackmannanshire Police, said:
“Clackmannanshire is pleased to support the “No Knives Better Lives” initiative. Whilst the number of knife crimes within Clackmannanshire is not at the level seen within other areas we consider one knife crime to be one too many. The effects of a single incident involving a knife can be devastating not only to the victim and perpetrator of the crime but also to their families and friends.”

No Knives, Better Lives is a national youth engagement initiative aimed at educating young people about the dangers of carrying a knife and the devastating personal consequences it can have on their future, as well as on their family and friends. It is designed to prevent young people from ever picking up a knife in the first place.

As part of the No Knives, Better Lives Inverclyde evaluation, 75 per cent of young people said they had seen or heard about knife crime messages. Independent research found that the campaign was seen by vast majority (90 per cent) of the local community as worthwhile and most view it as impacting positively on the local community (70 per cent). Although a significant minority of the community say the campaign makes them more concerned about the dangers on the street (41 per cent), a similar proportion say the campaign makes them feel safer when out and about (45 per cent).

The Scottish Government announced the £500,000 knife crime youth engagement initiative – No Knives, Better Lives – at the first national knife crime youth conference in Murrayfield in March this 2009. The conference was attended by 90 young people from across Scotland.

In Glasgow the campaign will run across the city, with a mobile street football deployment in each of Glasgow’s five localities – north, east, west, south east and south west. The areas within each locality have been identified as geographical hotspots by Glasgow Community and Safety Services following analysis of information from a range of sources including GCSS, Strathclyde Police, the community and other key partners.

In Edinburgh the campaign will run in the north of the city. Although assaults with an offensive weapon have reduced by over a third during the last four years, recent research has shown there are still a number of incidents occurring in the city. Recent analysis suggests that the number of incidents involving knives for criminal use and possession occurring in the North neighbourhood make up almost a third (228) of the number of incidents in Edinburgh. Other key findings of the report include, that in 47 per cent of incidents the victim knew of the offender and young offenders are influenced by the behaviour of older members of the community. The research also points to alcohol and drug misuse being contributory factors in knife related offences.

Analysis has shown that knife crime levels have remained fairly static in Clackmannanshire with an average of 54 incidents a year over the last 3 years, both the main perpetrator and victim of knife crimes are young males 16-20 yrs, with alcohol being a factor in the vast majority of incidents. The peak times of knife offences has also been identified as being during Friday and Saturday nights.

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