The recent spate of murders by stabbing of children and young people across Greater London and England has shocked and horrified everyone. On behalf of the Scottish National party, I extend our deepest condolences to all those bereaved by these senseless acts of violence.
We are acutely aware of the problem of knife crime in Scotland, because until recent years it was a terrible scourge, but, as others have alluded to, as a result of a radical change of approach to the problem, the incidence of knife crime in Scotland has greatly reduced, and crimes of handling an offensive weapon decreased by 64% between 2007-08 and 2016-17. I think we all know now that this occurred because of a holistic approach that involved the creation of a violence reduction unit, initially in Glasgow and now for the whole of Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, that treats violent crime as a public health problem and a social problem.
Scotland has also employed a whole-systems approach to young people at risk of offending that, rather than criminalising, labelling and stigmatising young people, provides early and effective interventions that keep young people out of formalised justice settings, and this includes the No Knives, Better Lives youth engagement programme.
All of this has been a huge success, which is why the Mayor of London, senior representatives of the Metropolitan police and senior representatives of the UK Government, including the Solicitor General, have all been up to Scotland in the last year to explore what lessons can be learned. The public health approach to knife crime is also advocated by the World Health Organisation. What specifically have the Home Secretary’s Government colleagues learned on their visits to Scotland? Can he tell us the precise extent of his plans to follow the Scottish model? If he is planning to do it, when is he going to do it?