Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 12:41 GMT on Saturday, 1st December 2012.
MSP welcomes tougher penalties for knife crime

Picture is copyright of Cumbernauld Media/ Scott Campbell.

A CENTRAL Scotland MSP has officially welcomed tougher penalties for knife crime.


SNP Central Scotland MSP, Clare Adamson has welcomed the announcement that knife possession penalties are to increase.


The Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, announced earlier this week that the maximum penalty for carrying a knife is to increase from four to five years imprisonment. He made the announcement at an event in Glasgow with the Violence Reduction Unit where he also emphasised the continuing importance of education to tackle knife crime. He said the move sent out a strong message that picking up or carrying a knife is not worth the risk and could lead to a lengthy prison sentence.


Commenting on the announcement, the MSP, said: “This latest step in tackling knife crime must be welcomed by all our communities.  The Scottish Government has been working hard to get the message across that carrying a knife is simply not acceptable.  Through the work of No Knives, Better Lives in North Lanarkshire and educating young people of the dangers in carrying knives we have seen progress in tackling knife crime though we can always do more.


The MSP added: “With this announcement from the Cabinet Secretary we will see tough enforcement already applied getting even tougher for those who still think it is acceptable to carry knives.”


As well as increasing knife crime penalties the Scottish Government also plan to make amendments to legislation to clarify the powers of the courts to impose a consecutive sentence for people who are released from prison but commit another crime before their original sentence has ended.


Legislation to deliver these changes will be brought in at the earliest opportunity through the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, which will be introduced in Parliament next year.


 Mr MacAskill said: "Knife crime has been a blight on our communities for too long. This Government is working tirelessly to tackle this and progress is being made through a combination of tough enforcement on the streets, backed by education.


“The message I’d send out today is that knives cost lives, the consequences can be devastating and carrying a knife is just not worth the risk. Our police forces are carrying out a record number of stop and searches on the streets and being caught with a knife could now land you a five year prison sentence.


“Today’s tranche of seized weapons illustrates the importance of education initiatives to change the culture in which some people think that carrying a knife is acceptable. It is not. Sentences for knife possession are tough and getting tougher - now at their highest for a decade and the highest in the UK.


“The statistics are moving in the right direction and show our approach is working - violent crime is at a 30 year low, there are 44 per cent fewer weapons on the streets since 2006/07 and recorded crimes and offences committed by young people are down by 37 per cent since 2007/08. Education, early intervention and prevention have been vital in helping to achieve these results.


“We also intend to legislate to simplify the law relating to the powers of the court to impose consecutive sentences on offenders who are still serving sentences for previous offences. We have looked at the way the law in this area operates and concluded that it is not as clear as it could be. 


"Scotland is already a safer place to live, but we can always do more. I am confident that today’s measures and our continuing efforts on education, diversion, and tackling the root causes of violence will continue to make a difference. There is no place for knife crime in our communities.”

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