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Last Updated: Monday, 17 December 2007, 15:29 GMT
Fight against 'hard man' culture
Slashed face
A report showed violence was often linked to alcohol
A 10-year plan to combat crime related to Scotland's "hard man" culture has been launched by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

The framework, produced by the police-led Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), aims to change attitudes and cut violence-related crime.

It includes targets on tackling youth gangs and alcohol-related violence and aims to permanently reduce incidents.

Mr MacAskill said that both police enforcement and education were needed.

Glasgow has one of the highest murder rates in Europe - significantly higher than other UK cities.

'Starting point'

Boys and young men in Scotland aged 10-29 are five times more likely to suffer a violent death than those in England and Wales, according to VRU head Det Ch Supt John Carnochan, of Strathclyde.

He said: "The challenge of reducing violence within 10 years may seem daunting, but the Scots have never shirked a challenge.

"As a country, we need to be bolder, more innovative and less tolerant of violence.

"We see this document as a starting point, something to strive for."

Speaking at the launch in Glasgow, the justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said Scotland's "hard man" image had to stop.

We want to make sure that we reduce the level of violence and that we change the attitude of many of our young men
Kenny MacAskill
Justice secretary

He added: "There's tragically been a view that we can drink every nation under the table and, somehow or other, we think that we can take them on single-handedly thereafter.

"There's loads of things that we can be proud of in Scotland, and it should not be that.

"Violence is not inevitable, it's preventable. We have to change, we will change, and we will make this a better country."

Mr MacAskill also revealed that a serious facial injury in Scotland occurs every six hours.

He said: "That's shameful in a 21st Century developed country.

"We can't go on as we are. We want to make sure that we reduce the level of violence and that we change the attitude of many of our young men."

The VRU was established in 2005 to work on long-term solutions for tackling violent crime.

Based at Strathclyde Police Force's headquarters, the unit works closely with other professionals including social workers, health experts and academics.

Silky rhetoric

A partnership has been developed with two Glasgow hospitals where patients who are victims of violence are counselled on ways to avoid getting into the same situation again.

Since June last year, patients with serious face injuries at the Southern General and Monklands Hospital in Airdrie have been given 20-minute advisory sessions with a nurse.

Christine Goodall, clinical lecturer in oral surgery at Glasgow University Dental School, said "Having sat in on a few of these interventions, you can definitely see a moment of realisation where people understand the sense of what you're saying to them.

"I'm very hopeful it will show good results."

Conservative MSP Bill Aitken MSP, the party's justice spokesman, said the SNP needed to prove to people that it was in a position to deliver the targets and re-establish faith in the Scottish justice system.

Mr Aitken said: "Worryingly, the signs are already there that the SNP is all talk and no action. They promised 1,000 extra police officers, now we might possibly receive 500.

"It is hardly surprising that people will need more than just silky rhetoric before they believe the SNP is in any position to deliver."

CCTV footage of drunken violence

Bid to cut drink-fuelled violence
03 Dec 07 |  Scotland
Festive crackdown on booze crime
28 Nov 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Alcohol advice for attack victims
18 Oct 06 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West


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