Local SNP MSP Adam Ingram has welcomed the announcement from the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MSP that the maximum penalty for carrying a knife is to increase from four to five years imprisonment.
As well as increasing knife crime penalties the Scottish Government also plan to make amendments to legislation to clarify the powers of the courts to impose a consecutive sentence for people who are released from prison but commit another crime before their original sentence has ended.
Legislation to deliver these changes will be brought in at the earliest opportunity through the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, which will be introduced in Parliament next year.
Commenting on the announcement Mr Ingram said: “Knife crime has been a blight on our communities for too long. The Scottish Government is working tirelessly to tackle this and progress is being made through a combination of tough enforcement on the streets, backed by education.
“The message I’d send out today is that knives cost lives, the consequences can be devastating and carrying a knife is just not worth the risk. Our police forces are carrying out a record number of stop and searches on the streets and being caught with a knife could now land you a five year prison sentence.
“The current number of seized weapons illustrates the importance of education initiatives to change the culture in which some people think that carrying a knife is acceptable. It is not. Sentences for knife possession are tough and getting tougher - now at their highest for a decade and the highest in the UK.
“The statistics are moving in the right direction and show our approach is working - violent crime is at a 30 year low, there are 44 per cent fewer weapons on the streets since 2006/07 and recorded crimes and offences committed by young people are down by 37 per cent since 2007/08. Education, early intervention and prevention have been vital in helping to achieve these results.
“Scotland is already a safer place to live, but we can always do more. I am confident that today’s measures and the SNP Governments continuing efforts on education, diversion, and tackling the root causes of violence will continue to make a difference. There is no place for knife crime in our communities.”