Recognition that violence is a public health issue, increased funding of recreational activities and early intervention are all key considerations if solutions to the knife-crime epidemic in Scotland are to be found. These were some of the comments from the 60 participants who attended the knife-crime debate in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament today.
During a robust five-hour debate, a cross-section of representatives from local communities, medical, legal, police and youth organisations voiced their opinions on everything from the motivation to carry a knife, the impact of knife crime, the criminal justice system and finally, solutions for the way forward.
Committee Convener Frank McAveety said: “The Public Petitions Committee is the most people-focussed committee in the Scottish Parliament. This debate today was always wider than criminal justice. It is about tackling knife crime on many levels – early intervention, education in schools, crime prevention, providing outlets in communities for people such as sports facilities, after-school facilities and support and training for community projects.
"One of the young people from the Urban Fox youth programme in the east end of Glasgow referred to the atmosphere of fear when walking down the street. That such a feeling exists, in any community in Scotland in 2009, is unacceptable and we all have a responsibility to change that.
"Today was not a one-off. The committee will be continuing its consideration of this petition in March, hopefully, when we will look at our report on today’s proceedings.”
Petitioner John Muir said: “I am pleased about the positive contributions made by so many people and the unique opportunity we have all taken today to consider knife crime.”
- The discussion on the motivation to carry a knife generated a number of explanations, from the adrenalin rush of recreational violence to territorial fights and personal protection.
- Regarding criminal justice and knife crime, calls for mandatory rehabilitation in prison and the establishment of a Sentencing Council were made.
- Solutions to knife crime ranged from early intervention to increased access and funding for recreational facilities and the establishment of a Sentencing Council.
The Public Petitions Committee will now prepare its report of today’s debate. It will also consider, in the light of the varied points made, where that report should be directed. It will continue to continue to work with petitioner John Muir.