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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Weapons seized following amnesty
Search using Ferroguard poles
Some of the searches were carried out using Ferroguard pole scanners
Scottish police forces have seized hundreds of knives and other weapons during the first two weeks of an enforcement campaign.

The seizures follow a nationwide knife amnesty when more than 12,500 blades were handed over in Scotland.

Between 30 June and 16 July police stopped and searched more than 8,000 people and recovered 222 knives and 227 other weapons.

They used 1,000 metal detectors to carry out the searches.

The detectors were given to forces as part of the Safer Scotland anti-violence campaign.

We gave repeated warnings that after the amnesty we were going after weapons carriers and going after them hard
Ch Insp Alex Maguire
Safer Scotland

Since the five-week amnesty ended, officers have been targeting gangs and known disorder areas, as well as carrying out operations at discos and clubs.

Ch Insp Alex McGuire, from the Safer Scotland co-ordination unit, said: "People had more than enough time to surrender their weapons during the knife amnesty.

"We gave repeated warnings that after the amnesty we were going after weapons carriers and going after them hard."

Ch Insp McGuire said he was "deeply disappointed" that almost 450 knives and weapons had been seized from people on the streets of Scotland over a two-week period.

STOP SEARCHES AND SCANS
British Transport Police - 305
Central - 234
Dumfries and Galloway - 819
Fife - 1,269
Grampian - 47
Lothian and Borders - 698
Northern - 12
Strathclyde - 4,860
Tayside - 425

"Although it shows that police are proactively searching for knife carriers, it clearly shows that there are individuals still out there who continue to think it's acceptable to carry a weapon in 21st Century Scotland," he said.

At the end of the amnesty the lord advocate introduced tough new measures for dealing with people who carry knives.

Anyone caught carrying a knife faces arrest and being held in custody until appearing in court.

Where an accused has a previous conviction for a similar offence, there will be a presumption by prosecutors in favour of prosecution before a judge and jury.

'Epidemic proportions'

Ch Insp McGuire added: "We want to send out a strong message today, that we will not tolerate the carrying of knives and weapons in our communities.

"If you are caught with a knife and arrested on a Friday night, you will be taken into custody and kept in custody over the weekend, before appearing in court on the Monday.

"If people continue to ignore our warnings, then they are taking a huge risk, as officers the length and breadth of the country will continue to be out in force tackling knife crime."

Margaret Mitchell, the Scottish Conservative's justice spokeswoman, said: "I am horrified to learn that almost 450 knives have been recovered by force since the amnesty ended, again underlining that knife crime is reaching epidemic proportions in Scotland.

"If the executive hoped that a one-month amnesty was going to solve the problem it is greatly mistaken."




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