Scottish prosecutors get tough on knife crime

Anyone caught carrying a knife in Scotland will be arrested and held in custody until they can appear in court, lord advocate Colin Boyd announced today.

Under tough new guidelines, prosecutors would also oppose bail where the suspect has one or more previous convictions involving possession of a knife, or for a violent offence involving a custodial sentence.

The announcement comes amid calls for more action to be taken against people carrying knives following the murder of a 15-year-old boy outside his school in London last week.

A 16-year-old was today due in court over the death of Kiyan Prince outside the gates of the London academy in Edgware, northwest London, as pupils were going home on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking at a violence reduction unit seminar in Edinburgh this morning, Mr Boyd QC said the new guidance would come into effect on June 30th, at the end of a month-long knife amnesty that begins on Wednesday.

“We will provide people with the opportunity to surrender their knives. But where people do not take this opportunity and persist in carrying a knife they will face the consequences,” he said.

He added: “The people of Scotland expect us to tackle the issues that make a difference to the quality of life in local communities, and that is what we must do.

“We must give our young people the incentive and the confidence to end the knife culture. We must build strong communities, free from the fear of violence.”

The new guidelines also state that when prosecutors are deciding where court proceedings should be taken, there will be a presumption in favour of a jury trial where the suspect has a previous conviction for knife crime.

Scottish National party (SNP) justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill MSP welcomed the announcement, saying that action must be taken to tackle the “scourge” of knife crime in Scotland.

“Knives are as much of a cultural problem as a criminal one, so we must be sure to tackle the causes as well as the symptoms of this blight on our communities,” he said.

“With these issues in mind we must see further resources given to support the vital work of the violence reduction unit in Strathclyde and other such schemes across the country.”