Page last updated at 18:22 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Calls for action on knife crime

Mr Salmond said ministers were considering the knife issue

Anyone facing knife crime charges should be remanded in prison or placed under supervision, Scottish Labour's Iain Gray has said.

His comments, during question time at Holyrood, came as he attacked the Scottish Government for delaying laws to restrict the sale of knives.

First Minister Alex Salmond said it was necessary to ensure the legislation was properly implemented.

He also said record police numbers were helping cut crime in Scotland.

Mr Gray accused the SNP of inaction on mandatory sentences and failing to implement legislation from 2007, which would license the sale of non-domestic knifes.

Murder victim

Calling for immediate action, he said: "At the very minimum I believe that when someone is charged with knife-crime, even for the first time, they should wait for their trial on remand or at least under supervision, such as an electronic tag or curfew.

"I think most Scots would agree with me."

Mr Salmond said the matter was still under consideration by ministers, adding: "I accept the seriousness of the issue and the tragedy of individual cases.

"Knife crime is a serious problem in Scotland, as indeed is the spread of guns and weapons.

"We should however put one thing into context - not only in Scotland just now do we have the highest number of police officers in history but we have the lowest levels of recorded crime for 25 years."

Mr Gray's attack came the day before a knife crime summit at the Scottish Parliament.

The event, organised by Holyrood's public petitions committee, will involve police, young people, health workers and politicians.

It follows a campaign and petition by John Muir, whose son Damian was murdered in Greenock in 2007, for automatic prison sentences for those caught carrying knives.

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