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Friday, 3 March, 2000, 14:55 GMT
Scotland tops murder league
A collection of knives
Knives are a major factor in the number of murders
The rate of murders in Scotland over a 10-year period was nearly twice the total in England and Wales, according to research.

Figures for deaths between 1985 and 1994 show there were an average of 19 killings per million people in Scotland, compared to 11 per million in the other two countries put together.

Most of the deaths were men - 28 per million against 13 per million in England and Wales.

'Hard man' approach

Scottish Justice Minister Jim Wallace said: "The real problem is one of young men, drink and knives.

"We need to educate young people away from the 'hard man' approach to life which results in a man in Scotland being more than twice as likely to be murdered as a man in England and Wales.

"The research shows that risk of homicide for women and children is similar in Scotland and England and Wales.

Research findings
Average homicide rate for Scotland: 19.15 per million - 11.28 per million in England and Wales
Average male rate: 28.84 - 13.4
Average female rate: 10.97 - 9.25
Rate of homicides by acquaintances: 12.91 - 4.72
"The research covered the years 1985-94 when for some years the Scottish murder rate was significantly higher.

"For the last two years it has been lower but we must not be complacent. It is still significantly higher than south of the border. This is not something of which we can be proud.

"We have already acted to cut down on the number of knives being carried by people in Scotland. The Knives (Scotland) Act gave the police new powers to stop and search those they suspect of carrying a knife.

Alcohol link

"We will continue to offer the police all the support they need in this area and also look to the courts to punish those who use such weapons to commit violent crime."

"We will probe more closely the links between alcohol and crime, particularly violent crime."

The research was commissioned by Scottish Office in 1998 to find out why there was such a difference between murder rates.

Jim Wallace
Jim Wallace: "We must not be complacent"
The study was carried out by Professor Keith Soothill and colleagues at the University of Lancaster.

Killings using knives or other objects as well as hitting and kicking were significantly more common in Scotland.

Last month, a 48-hour crackdown by Strathclyde Police resulted in another 39 arrests and the seizure of a range of weapons.

The operation over the weekend was part of the Spotlight Initiative on safer streets.

In all, 26 knives, including lock knives, kitchen knives and machetes were recovered in the two days.

Another 18 offensive weapons ranging from pick axe handles and Chinese fighting sticks to buckled belts and batons were also seized.

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21 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Police step up knives campaign
05 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Police target knife carriers
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