From today (Monday 2 April) anyone arrested with a knife in Scotland’s town and city centres will be prosecuted before a Sheriff and jury, resulting in a potential increase of a maximum prison term from one year to four years.
The strengthened prosecution policy for anyone found in possession of a knife in town and city centres has been introduced as a result of a successful pilot over the Christmas and New Year festive period aimed at deterring knife offences and reducing violence.
At the end of last year a ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown on knife carrying in Scotland’s town and city centres was enforced by the police between 12 December 2011 and 23 January 2012.
The Crown Office initiative followed the strengthening of the prosecution policy for those found in possession of a knife; on licensed premises; when local gang involvement is probable; on public transport or at a bus or train station: which was announced in July 2011 by the Lord Advocate.
The six-week pilot provided a snapshot of knife related crime and demonstrated the value in making the tougher action a permanent feature of the fight to deter violence and protect communities. The number of knife crime offences reported to the prosecution service during the pilot was down to 212 - a reduction by 18% from the same period the previous year. Of those offences committed within a town or city centre 58 offenders were placed on petition and face more serious penalties.