POLICE powers to stop and search will be used to target people who carry knives in an effort to cut violent crime, Scotland’s chief constable has warned.
• Police Scotland to use stop and search tactics to reduce knife crime
• Stephen House says officers will target “known knife carriers” in areas where violence, disorder and knife-carrying may be prevalent
Steve House said he wants officers to make sure the powers are used effectively as a tactic to remove weapons from the country’s streets.
He will outline Police Scotland’s ongoing support for the No Knives, Better Lives network and welcome the 25 per cent reduction of weapon-carrying in pilot areas at an event in Easterhouse, Glasgow, tomorrow.
Chief Constable Mr House said: “Our focus is keeping people safe and when we listened to what local communities told us were their key concerns, reducing violent crime was one of the top priorities.
“While violent crime levels continue to decrease, we must not be complacent. Stop and search is one of a range of policing tactics we want to use to deter people from carrying knives in the first place.
“There is nothing to fear from stop and search. My officers will target known knife carriers and violent offenders, and be visible and conduct searches in the areas where the community tell us there is likelihood of violence, disorder or knife-carrying.
“The use of stop and search powers is a proactive, intelligence-led policing tactic. Officers will not randomly search individuals or groups without reasonable cause to suspect an offence.”
He added: “Knives are not defensive weapons, they are offensive and their potential use can have a major impact - on the victim, the carrier, families and the community.
“That’s why I will be ensuring stop and search, as well as our wider range of policing tactics, are effectively used across the country, especially where violent crime persists.
“Progress is being made. Courts in Scotland discharge the toughest knife sentencing regime in the UK. All the criminal justice agencies are united in sending a clear message - carry a knife? It’s not worth the risk.”
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “Tough enforcement backed by education and early intervention is the key to tackling knife crime and I welcome the continued commitment of police getting these weapons off our streets.
“It is never acceptable to carry a knife. Too many families have lost loved ones as a result of someone believing it was acceptable to take a weapon on our streets.
“The Scottish Government, our police service, local law enforcement agencies and community organisations are united in a shared aim of tackling knife crime wherever and whenever it occurs.
“The statistics show this approach is working with the number of people caught carrying an offensive weapon down to its lowest level in 18 years, the number of people killed as a result of a knife down 23% this year, and those caught carrying a knife in Scotland now being punished through the longest prison sentences for over a decade.”
SEE ALSO: Stephen House interview, April 2013