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Action to reduce violence and knife crime

Violence and knife crime

The Scottish Government is committed to tackling all forms of violence across Scotland. Crime is at a 41 year low and the number of homicides and crimes of handling an offensive weapon are at their lowest level since records began. However, we recognise there is still more we need to do. Violence is a complex issue and as such we need to tackle the causes not just the symptoms.

Alongside enforcement of legislation, our approach is based on prevention and early intervention. Early years experiences, positive parenting and the experiences of having good healthy respectful relationships all play a key role in reducing violence. We are working with various partners who deliver a number of programmes to prevent and reduce violence, encouraging people to make positive life choices for themselves, their families and their communities.

The Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2014-15 statistics were published on 8 Sept 2015 and are available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/09/5338

Key statistics

  • Violent crime decreased by 6% between 2013-14 and 2014-15 and is now at its lowest level for 41 years.

  • Crimes recorded by the police in Scotland decreased from 270,397 in 2013-14 to 256,350 in 2014-15.

  • Recorded crimes of handling an offensive weapon are the lowest in 31 years (since 1984). In the past year (2013-14 to 2014-15) there has been a 13% decrease in crimes of handling an offensive weapon, a fall of 67% since 2006-07.

  • The number of young people under 19 convicted of handling an offensive weapon has also fallen by 82% from 811 in 2006/07 to 146 in 2014/15.

  • There were 59 homicide victims in 2014-15, the lowest number of homicide victims recorded since records began. These are the lowest numbers of homicide cases and victims in 39 years.

  • The average length of custodial sentences for carrying an offensive weapon, including knives, has decreased slightly from 374 days in 2013-14 to 370 days in 2014-15 , however this is still significantly higher than the average of 160 at 2006-07 and means that someone convicted of these offences will, if imprisoned, receive an average sentence of more than 1 year.

  • The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15 published on Tuesday 15 March 2016 found that the vast majority of people (85.5%) have experienced no crime.

To support delivery of various prevention and early intervention programmes, the Scottish Government is funding and supporting the following:

Violence Reduction Unit (VRU)

The VRU aims to reduce violent crime and behaviour by working with partner agencies to achieve long-term societal and attitudinal change, and, by focusing on enforcement, to contain and manage individuals who carry weapons or who are involved in violent behaviour. The unit also aims to explore best practices and develop sustainable, innovative solutions to the deep rooted problem of violence. The VRU is headed by Karyn McCluskey. For further information see: http://www.actiononviolence.org.uk/

Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme

MVP Scotland is a bystander programme which aims to empower young people to safely challenge and speak out against bullying, abusive and violent behaviour, as well as the negative attitudes and assumptions which underpin this behaviour. A key component of the types of behaviours and attitudes which MVP seeks to address centres on gender-based violence and attitudes and assumptions towards women and girls. For further information see: http://mvpscotland.org.uk/

Medics Against Violence (MAV)

Medics Against Violence works in partnership with the Violence Reduction Unit to prevent violence before it happens. Using healthcare workers, they use their experiences to help young people stay safe by giving them an understanding of the consequences of violence and how to avoid it. For further information see: http://medicsagainstviolence.co.uk/

No Knives Better Lives Programme (NKBL)

No Knives Better Lives (NKBL) is a youth programme that works with local partners (council, police, youth groups etc) to deliver a range of activities and events to get the message across to young people about the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife, whilst encouraging them to make positive life choices. Between 2009 and 2014, the national NKBL delivery team supported partners in 11 local authority areas to run local NKBL campaigns. In April 2014 a more flexible delivery model was introduced whereby access to the NKBL support programme was made available to all 32 local authority areas in Scotland. A total of 18 local authority areas are now involved in the initiative. For further information see: http://noknivesbetterlives.com/

Police Scotland National Partnership Unit

As part of Building Safer Communities (http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/justicestrategy/programmes/building-safer-communities), we have supported the establishment of the National Partnership Unit - Police Scotland, Young Scot and Youthlink Scotland working more closely together to improve police engagement with young people, breaking down barriers with traditionally difficult to engage communities and promoting positive role models.

Further related links

Alcohol and Drugs - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/drugs-alcohol

Building Safer Communities programme -  http://www.bsc.scot/

Cashback for Communities - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/community-engagement/cashback

Early Years -  http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Young-People/early-years

Equalities - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Equality

Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Young-People/gettingitright

Reducing Reoffending - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/reducing-reoffending

Sectarianism - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/reducing-crime/tackling-hate-crime

Violence Against Women - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Equality/violence-women

Youth Justice - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/young-offending