Campaign in Inverclyde sees knife figures fall

image captionThe campaign has now been extended to include a further five target areas across Scotland

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has hailed the "real achievement" of a pilot scheme which has led to a 35% drop in knife-carrying.

The No Knives, Better Lives campaign was introduced in Inverclyde last year, in order to raise awareness among young people about the dangers of carrying the weapons.

Police also targeted areas which were hotspots for knife crime.

The initiative has now been rolled out to other parts of Scotland.

Between February 2008 and May 2009, there were 142 cases of people being caught in possession of a knife in Inverclyde.

But this fell to 93 for the period between June 2009 to September 2010 - despite more stop and searches being carried out by police in 2009-10.

Mr MacAskill said Inverclyde had "suffered from a knife culture that blights too many communities in Scotland".

He added: "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 among some young men and women."

'Changing attitudes'

The campaign has now been extended to include a further five target areas across Scotland - Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Clackmannanshire.

Ch Insp Graeme MacDiarmid, Strathclyde Police's area commander for Inverclyde, said the No Knives, Better Lives campaign had played an "integral part" in the fight against knife crime.

He added: "Educating and changing the attitudes of how the young feel about knives is paramount in achieving any real long-term success.

"Never before have police officers in Inverclyde carried out so many searches for weapons, yet at the same time found so few."

Earlier this year, MSPs rejected legislation to introduce mandatory six-month jail terms for anyone caught carrying a knife.

The move came as parliament debated the final version of the Scottish government's Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill.

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