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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 February 2008, 15:04 GMT
Police to focus on violent crimes
Generic picture of knives
Schoolchildren may have to pass through metal detectors
Police in England and Wales are to focus more on combating violent crime involving guns, gangs and rape and will be given equipment to detect knives.

Jacqui Smith is to unveil the Tackling Violence Action Plan on Monday.

The government plan will include hundreds of metal-detecting arches and search wands for communities, aimed at combating the carrying of knives.

Ms Smith said the government was also taking a "very serious look" at the impact of low prices for alcohol.

The action plan will also focus on alcohol use, which is a factor in almost half of all violent incidents.

A 1m awareness campaign will seek to convince young people that carrying a knife actually increases their risk of being a victim of violence.

Ms Smith will announce new resources for hundreds of metal-detecting arches and search wands for local communities.

The equipment is thought to be portable enough to go in the back of a police car and be taken to pubs, clubs, schools.

Knives were linked to 258 deaths in 2006-7 compared with 219 the previous year.

'Greatest concern'

The plan also aims to build on a recent drive to clamp down on the sale of alcohol to under-18s.

The Home Office said that although just 1% of crime involves serious violence, alcohol is a factor in almost half of all violent incidents.

We need to get in early, whether it's through education, or prevention, or making sure we identify violent people early as well
Jacqui Smith

Ms Smith told the BBC Politics Show the government had begun to take a "very serious look" at what the evidence is about the relationship between price and alcohol.

"There is not one single, simple solution to this, but we do need to look at the impact of price. There should be action taken about irresponsible promotions," she said.

Ms Smith also said she was "serious" about tackling violence "if it occurs on our streets or if it occurs behind closed doors".

This, she said, included extending projects that go into schools and teach young people about the dangers of carrying knives.

"We need to get in early, whether it's through education, or prevention, or making sure we identify violent people early as well," she said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Society is just not sending out a strong enough message that criminals, all criminals, will be caught and punished
Ian, Perth

The BBC's political correspondent, Guto Harri, said that despite violent crime making up a low proportion of recorded offences, the government has recognised it is the cause of greatest concern among the public.

Police will also be urged to work more closely with other agencies such as social services and councils to spot people who may be likely to turn to crime.

Ms Smith has also announced trials of a scheme allowing parents to check whether people with unsupervised contact with their children have paedophile convictions.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "I welcome any practical measure to curb the appalling rise of knife crime.

"But fatal stabbings have increased by over a quarter under Labour, and the government has utterly failed to take the kind of decisive - and sustained - action needed to clamp down on knife crime.

"A Conservative government will put police back on the street, take a zero-tolerance approach to crime and make officers accountable to the communities they serve, not the latest whim from Whitehall.

"We will reverse a decade of reckless policy - the mixed messages on drugs and 24 hour drinking - that has fuelled this rising tide of violence."



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
CCTV footage of street violence



SEE ALSO
Under-18s may face new drink ban
07 Feb 08 |  UK Politics
Push for new stop and search laws
30 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Metal detectors plan for schools
21 Jan 08 |  Education

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