Policy actions  2 of 3

Violence including knife crime

We know the consequences of violence can be devastating to individuals, families and communities. Violence of any kind and at any level is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Tackling violence including knife crime is a priority for this government.

Alongside enforcement and prosecution, the Scottish Government and its partners focus on the prevention of violence through a public health approach. This means we are drawing on the approach health professionals use to tackle disease. Public health is all about prevention – and, just as it is better to vaccinate against a disease than it is to treat the disease, it is better to prevent violence happening in the first place than to react once it has occurred.

Good progress across Scotland has been made – recorded crime, particularly non-sexual violent crime, is now considerably lower than it was over a decade ago, with fewer victims. However, for some types of violent crime there are increases – we recognise there is much more we need to do.

To strengthen our approach we published Scotland’s first violence prevention framework (May 2023). This Framework sets out our vision to prevent violence across Scotland, and when it does occur, to reduce its harm. It is supported by an evidence supplement, which spotlights some cross government work that contributes to preventing violence, and includes priority aims and an action plan, outlining some of the initial activities being taken forward.

The Framework Action Plan is supported by investment to deliver ongoing and new violence prevention activity through the work of our violence reduction partner organisations, including;

Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit uses a public health approach to trial and test out opportunities to prevent, interrupt and divert individuals away from violence using evidence and intelligence on what works to prevent violence.

Medics Against Violence

Medics Against Violence is a charity supported by NHS professionals who volunteer at local schools, speaking directly to young people about the dangers and consequences of engaging in violence, providing a medical perspective on the impact of alcohol and drugs on the teenage brain and providing advice on how to keep themselves and their peers safe. 

Hospital Navigator Service

Developed in partnership with the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Medics Against Violence co-ordinate and support nationally delivery of the Hospital Navigator Service, which interrupts violence by supporting people involved in chaotic and violent lifestyles who present within an Emergency Department (ED) or hospital ward. The service now operates in nine hospitals across Scotland with further expansion being explored. A Youth Hospital Navigator service, based on the learning from the adult model, is taking place in the children’s hospital Emergency Department at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, to provide support to people at an earlier stage of their lives.

Mentors in Violence Prevention

Mentors in Violence Prevention is a bystander education programme, engaging young people to speak out against gender-based violence, bullying, abusive and violent behaviour, as well as the negative societal attitudes and assumptions which underpin this behaviour. It is a peer education programme, delivered within schools, empowering young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to understand and safely challenge gender based violence issues, so that young people can become part of the solution to tackling violence against women and girls. 

Education Scotland are working with all 32 local authority areas to support national and local delivery of the programme to young people. 

No Knives Better Lives (NKBL)

No Knives Better Lives is a youth engagement programme that aims to prevent violence and knife carrying amongst young people. The NKBL programme is delivered at a local level by all 32 local authority areas across Scotland, and is supported by the National NKBL Delivery Team based at YouthLink Scotland. It provides resources, support and training to partners, including Police Scotland and youth workers, working with young people in an empowering way to deliver violence prevention messages and activities. 

Police Scotland Youth Volunteers

Police Scotland Youth Volunteers is a programme that provides young people aged 13 to 18 from a mix of backgrounds with the opportunity to break down barriers with the police, gain confidence and develop leadership skills by volunteering with Police Scotland in their local community. 

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Email: ViolenceReduction@gov.scot  

Violence Reduction Policy Team
St Andrews House
1W Regent Road

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