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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 10:59 GMT
National knife amnesty announced
Knives
Knife crime remains a problem on Scotland's streets
Scotland's first nationwide knives amnesty will get under way in May of this year, ministers have announced.

It will run for a month from 24 May and kick-start a year-long Safer Scotland campaign to tackle violence.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said: "Such a deep-seated problem cannot be solved overnight but action needs to be taken now to make communities safer."

Anyone surrendering their weapon to police will not be prosecuted for possession when handing it in.

Ms Jamieson appealed directly to knife carriers.

She said: "I now call on all those people who carry a knife to think about the consequences.

"Use the amnesty as an opportunity to put this behind you and stop more young people being killed or maimed through such thuggery."

No-one leaves home with the intention of becoming a murderer but that's the chance you take if you carry a knife
Det Ch Supt John Carnochan
Violence Reduction Unit

The justice minister pointed to the "substantial impact" of Operation Blade in the 1990s.

The four week amnesty in 1993 resulted in the surrender of more than 4,500 weapons.

In the subsequent 12 months murder rates fell by 26%.

Statistics show that more than half of Scotland's murders involve knives.

The amnesty will be co-ordinated by the national Violence Reduction Unit and backed up by educational initiatives.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, head of the unit, said: "This is part of the contain and manage element of our long-term violence reduction strategy.

"The amnesty is an opportunity for people to make that potentially life-saving decision.

"No one leaves home with the intention of becoming a murderer but that's the chance you take if you carry a knife."

Prosecution review

The VRU will work with local authorities in the coming year to establish a violence reduction alliance.

The amnesty has been sanctioned by the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, who said: "I have commissioned a review of prosecution policy on knife crime which will ensure that prosecutors maintain a robust approach to such cases.

"They will give careful consideration to prosecuting persistent and violent offenders."

The nationwide Safer Scotland campaign will tackle all aspects of violence and will be run by the nation's police forces.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See why the amnesty is being held



SEE ALSO:
Police condemn knife crime level
18 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Crackdown targets knife culture
22 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Stabbings 'a public health issue'
17 Oct 04 |  Scotland


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