Page last updated at 15:16 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 16:16 UK

Knife carriers inquiry announced

Damian Muir

A Scottish Parliament committee is to hold an inquiry on punishing knife crime, following a plea by a heartbroken father.

John Muir, whose son Damian was stabbed to death in Greenock last year in a random street attack, said those caught carrying knives should be jailed.

Holyrood's Petitions Committee will take evidence from a range of experts, including police and prosecutors.

Mr Muir welcomed the move, but said action had to be taken more quickly.

Damian's killer twice avoided jail after being caught carrying knives.

The 34-year-old was on his way home from a night out when he was stabbed eight times.

His attacker, Barry Gavin, later told police he had no idea who his victim was, but that he had been in the "wrong place at the wrong time".

There's more talking than walking and I'd like to see things done a bit faster
John Muir

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said it was already "almost invariably" the case that using a knife brought a jail term.

But Mr Muir said the measures had to go further, under what has become known as "Damian's law", to punish people who carried blades, whether they had blood on them or not.

The Holyrood committee has now agreed to take evidence on the issue from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, social work bosses, the Crown Office and Scottish ministers.

Speaking after the committee meeting, Mr Muir told BBC Scotland: "It's really got to go forward at a larger pace because, I've said many a time now, there's more talking than walking and I'd like to see things done a bit faster.

"If we get that, we'll see a big change in the knife culture."

Mr MacAskill said the best way to tackle the problem was to ensure the judiciary enforced the law, while sentencing guidelines were reformed.

More than 500 people have been stabbed to death in Scotland over the last 10 years, giving the country one of the highest murder rates in Europe.

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