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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 13:23 GMT
Fresh efforts to cut knife crime
Scotland has some of the worst knife crime figures in Europe
Plans aimed at reducing knife crime have been laid out at Holyrood.

Ministers began a consultation exercise as part of a new Police Bill due to go before the parliament in the autumn.

The bill will double the maximum jail sentence for possessing knives to four years and raise the minimum age for buying knives to 18 from 16.

It would also attempt to hit football hooligans by bringing in banning orders against those guilty of racist or sectarian abuse, and violence.

Racist abuse

The new powers, which have already been welcomed by police, could also prevent soccer troublemakers from travelling abroad to big games.

Other proposals in the bill relate to encouraging those accused of crimes to give information to the police in return for reduced sentences and introducing mandatory drug testing for anyone aged 16 or over suspected of a drugs-related offence.

It also includes a range of proposals to improve the way decisions are taken on marches and parades in line with the recommendations in Sir John Orr's review, published last month.

Other plans include giving the police the unconditional power to arrest someone suspected of carrying a knife.

Scotland has the third highest rate of murders from stabbing in Europe with half of all homicides caused by blades.

Substantial benefit

The changes are contained in a consultation paper published on Wednesday, which will be the forerunner to the proposed bill.

In a separate move to be discussed by MSPs at a later date, shops selling knives will be licensed and the sale of samurai swords is set to be banned.

Cathy Jamieson

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said: "Overall, I believe these proposals will be of substantial benefit to the police and public.

"They will ensure the service has the tools as well as the resources to meet the challenges of modern policing so that it can continue to deliver a high level of service to communities and we reduce not just people's experience of crime but also their fear of crime."

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Bill Aitken said: "Why is it taking so long to deal with knife crime?

"This is yet another repeat announcement of measures to tackle the problem while we continue to see needless attacks on our streets.

"What's more, even if these measures do come into force, the ridiculous practice of automatic early release will ensure that anyone who receives a sentence of up to four years will only serve half of it."

New bid to give red card to thugs
01 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Crackdown targets knife culture
22 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Stabbings 'a public health issue'
17 Oct 04 |  Scotland
Weapons seized by metal detectors
01 Mar 04 |  Scotland
Police use knife crime powers
28 Feb 04 |  Scotland


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