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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
Police call for blade crusade
Ministers argue that a crackdown is working
An increase in knife crime has led to calls from police chiefs for society to do more to combat the problem.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said the message about the danger of carrying knives must be driven home, especially to young men.

That call was echoed by Victim Support Scotland which said knife attacks had a terrible effect on the victims.

The Scottish National Party said it wanted to see new measures to tackle Scotland's knife culture but the Scottish Executive has argued that the latest statistics show that a police crackdown is working.

Later this month, the BBC is holding a "Crime Day". Click here to find out how you can take part.

The latest figures for knife crime and the use of offensive weapons were published in the Scottish Parliament following questions by the SNP.

They show that convictions for carrying an offensive weapon rose from 227 in 1996 to 1,137 in 2000.

Convictions up

The number of people convicted of having a weapon with a blade or point in a public place leapt from 317 to 1,101.

Strathclyde Police Assistant Chief Constable Graeme Pearson, speaking for Acpos, said: "What we need to do is, in the years to come, make it as unacceptable for someone to carry a knife as it is now unacceptable to drink and drive.

"Someone who walks the street with a knife should be seen as someone beyond the pale."

John Swinney
John Swinney said action was needed

David McKenna, from Victim Support Scotland, said: "We've seen increasing levels of violence over the last five to 10 years and indeed that has often been associated with youth crime and carrying weapons like knives and blades.

"The sad thing is it's young people committing crime against young people.

"Violence is on the increase, the police are doing a lot about it but we still need to do a lot more."

Claims rejected

SNP leader John Swinney said that the figures were clear evidence of an unprecedented upsurge in Scotland's knife culture.

He said new ways of tackling the problem - including stiffer sentences - must be explored.

However, Justice Minister Jim Wallace said the SNP claims were false.

He said the increases in convictions were actually proof of an enormously successful crackdown on knife crime by the police and Scotland's legal system.

How you can take part in the BBC's Crime Day

We want to hear other stories of how crime has been cracked - have you and your friends started a group or campaign to improve the quality of life on your estate or neighbourhood and succeeded in bringing down crime?

Call us on 08700 100 900 to tell us your story or write to Crime Crackers, BBC Scotland, Broadcasting House, Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow G12 8DG.

Alternatively use this form to e-mail your response.

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Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

BBC Scotland's Bob Wylie
"Convictions for knife crime are three times higher than five years ago"
David McKenna, Victim Support Scotland
"It's young people committing crime against young people"
See also:

07 Jun 00 | Scotland
30 Apr 00 | Scotland
21 Feb 00 | Scotland
05 Feb 00 | Scotland
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