People who carry knives could now face up to four years in prison after a “zero tolerance” crackdown on knife crime was rubberstamped for implementation across Scotland.
New guidelines set by The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) mean anyone caught carrying a knife will face prosecution in front of a sheriff and a jury, increasing the maximum sentence from one year to four.
Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton, of Strathclyde Police said: “Short-term sentences don’t really work for people because they come out and they commit offences again.
“It has to be seen as a real deterrent and we’re doing everything we can to eradicate knives from criminal use.”
The move comes after a pilot scheme over Christmas and New Year saw the number of knife crimes reported to the prosecution service drop to 212 – an 18 per cent decrease from the previous year.
With the help of an extra 800 police officers on the streets, Strathclyde Police have been implementing stop and search procedures in a bid to tackle the problem. In 2007-08 they searched 138,000, and figures just released for 2011-12 show that figure has risen to 489,753 people.
Ch Supt Hamilton said: “We don’t want to alienate decent people, so what we do is target the right people, at the right times and the right places, and as a result of that we’ve see a dramatic reduction in knife crime, and also a dramatic reduction in the violence that comes from that.”
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC said: “The prosecution service’s zero tolerance policy to knife crime has resulted in a reduction in the number of cases reported to the COPFS [Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service] over the same period as last year.
“From today the zero tolerance policy towards those who commit such offences in our town and city centres will be a permanent part of our prosecution policy."