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Should anyone caught carrying a knife be locked-up?

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Graham Stewart | 09:04 UK time, Friday, 15 May 2009


The Scottish Conservative leader has called for a mandatory two-year jail term for those convicted of knife crime.

Annabel Goldie made the pledge at her party's Scottish conference in Perth.

It was also the subject of heated debate at First Minister's Questions in the Parliament yesterday — as you can hear for yourself on Scotland at Ten's coverage.

Ms Goldie told the First Minister that knife crime in Scotland was now at "epidemic proportions" adding it was "blighting every community in our country". She was joined by the Scottish Labour leader, Iain Gray, who told MSPs that 45% of homicides involved a blade. He also said 71% of convicted "knife thugs" didn't go to prison, while 65% of those who did received terms of less than six months.

However, the First Minister quoted Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan of Strathclyde's Violence Reduction Unit who believes that simply sending all offenders to prison isn't the solution. As Mr Carnochan explained on today's Morning Extra, we need to look at the root causes including the culture of alcohol in this country.

We also heard today from John Muir, whose son Damian was murdered in Greenock in 2007 after he was stabbed eight times. Since then he's been campaigning for automatic jail sentences for those caught carrying knifes.

So who's right? Is an automatic prison sentence a proven detterent that would change our knife culture? Or is it just a headline-grabber?


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