Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Sunday, 23 August 2009 15:32 UK

Knife crime 'is a repeat offence'

Official figures highlighted the rate of reoffending

Almost two-thirds of prisoners in jail for possession of an offensive weapon have already been behind bars for the same crime, it has been suggested.

Official figures showed 145 out of 243 prisoners across Scotland had a historic warrant.

And the figures revealed 229 of the prisoners had previously been in jail.

The Scottish Prison Service released the information, which covered one day in August, following a request from Lib Dem justice spokesman Robert Brown.

He said: "These figures show the true extent of the revolving door at Scotland's prisons.

"94% of people in jail for carrying an offensive weapon have been there before, with 60% having previously been locked up for the same crime.

"It is clear that the threat of prison is largely useless as a deterrent to crime or carrying a weapon in Scotland."

Mr Brown said everyone involved in the system - prison officers, police or social workers as well as local communities - knows that short terms do not work.

The Scottish Government wants to cut the number of jail terms of six months or less, but has faced resistance from Labour and the Conservatives.


Mr Brown said: "No-one would dispute the need for dangerous criminals to be locked up, but we must look at what works not what simply sounds tough if we are to cut re-offending rates."

He called on ministers to support initiatives such as Reclaim, which aims to get young people in Glasgow out of gangs and off the streets.

The snapshot figures showed 63 out of 95 inmates at Barlinnie were in jail again for carrying an offensive weapon.

At Polmont young offenders institution, 21 of 35 were in custody under the same circumstances.

Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker MSP said: "Robert Brown fails to understand that most of these vicious criminals have also received fines and community service beforehand. His thinking is as deluded as Kenny MacAskill's on this issue.

"Labour always puts victims first that's why we believe that if you carry a knife then you should go to jail."

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