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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
New law and order bill published
The bill will address the problem of knife crime
The bill will address the problem of knife crime
A bill which aims to tackle knife crime and football-related violence has been published in the Scottish Parliament.

The Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill is one of the centrepieces of the Scottish Executive's legislative programme.

It includes measures to ban football hooligans from grounds and improve security around parades and marches.

Police officers are concerned about extra work without having additional resources and the SNP has objected.

An independent body to investigate complaints against the police will also be introduced.

Turning evidence

The bill will enhance other police powers such as the ability to prevent the anti-social use of fireworks and give the authority to take fingerprints while out on the beat.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said: "We will also target the so-called 'Mr Bigs' of the crime world by encouraging those accused of crimes to give information and evidence to the police and prosecutors about others involved in serious and organised crime, in return for reduced sentences."

Doubling the maximum penalty for carrying a knife in public from two to four years
Unconditional power to arrest someone suspected of carrying a knife
Increasing the minimum age for buying a non-domestic knife from 16 to 18
Banning orders to tackle football related violence or sectarianism, racism or hatred
Mandatory drug testing for anyone aged 16 or over suspected of a drugs or drugs-related offence such as theft and shoplifting
Make police complaints more transparent and accountable
Establish the new Scottish Police Services Authority

She added: "These measures 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."

Police were said to be content with most of the proposals but Tom Buchan, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said more work was being given to police without extra resources.

Scant regard was being paid to the implications of the new legislation on the service, he added.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland welcomed the bill but said "considerable detail" would have to be addressed during its passage through parliament.

The Scottish National Party complained that the measures were not tough enough.

Justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill said: "We welcome this new bill, but it is long overdue and it does not go far enough to protect Scotland's communities from the scourge of firearms.

"We need all encompassing legislation on firearms to match powers on knives."

This bill is nothing more than a piecemeal measure
Kenny MacAskill MSP
Scottish National Party

He continued: "As well as being tough on crime this Lib Lab executive must be tough on the root causes of crime: drink, drugs and deprivation - on which they have lamentably failed.

"Until we do so, this bill is nothing more than a piecemeal measure."

Local authority body Cosla welcomed the moves but raised concerns over the proposals on marches and parades and the reform of common police services.

Community safety spokeswoman Councillor Alison Hay said: "The financial implications are massive because of the amount of work that will be generated.

"Remember, we are talking about a really wide spectrum of activity - anything from community and children's parades to sectarian and political marches."

She added: "What is being proposed is fine as it stands but we would call on the minister to rule out immediately any moves towards a national police service."

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