Knife Crime (Glasgow)

Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 1st October 2009.

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Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour 2:15 pm, 1st October 2009

To ask the Scottish Executive how many people were convicted of handling an offensive weapon or assault with a knife in Glasgow sheriff court and the High Court in Glasgow in July 2009. (S3O-8031)

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

Statistics on the number of convictions in Scottish courts covering July 2009 will not be available until spring 2011, but on the basis of statistics that were published this week, I can confirm that the number of offensive weapons offences in Glasgow fell last year by 6.3 per cent. That happened against the backdrop of violent crime in Scotland being at its lowest level since 1986 and crime overall being at its lowest level since 1980.

However, there is always more to be done on issues such as knife crime. That is why we are working with the national violence reduction unit, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and other partners, including Glasgow City Council, to tackle knife crime. The collective effort is considerable, and the Government will play its part.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I argue that we have seen little progress on knife crime and point out that when it comes to crime, a postcode lottery exists in Scotland. Given that Glasgow has the highest level of recorded crime in Scotland, will the cabinet secretary provide Glasgow with any extra resources or introduce any extra measures to deal with knife crime in the city? Will he also explain why he accepted a cut in the community justice authority's budget, despite the rhetoric of the Scottish National Party and its apparent wish to provide thousands more community sentence places?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

That is just not true. We are putting record amounts into ensuring that we deliver on community sentencing and community payback. The Government is delivering on that.

As far as the city of Glasgow is concerned, a record number of police officers have been provided by this Government, in conjunction with others, whose contribution I am happy to acknowledge and give credit for.

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

It is true that Glasgow City Council contributes. Great credit must also go to Chief Constable Steve House, who has radically transformed policing by ensuring that officers are used constructively and that we not only provide officers but get them out on the streets by lessening the requirement for them to stay behind desks.

Glasgow is where the violence reduction unit, which I mentioned in my original answer, is based, and it leads not only in Scotland but, in many respects, in the world. Indeed, it was praised by Cherie Blair, the wife of the former Prime Minister. Significant resources are being provided. The member will be aware that in the east end of Glasgow, which she represents, work is being done that shows that we recognise the significant problems that exist there and in other parts of Glasgow. That is why we are putting resources into policing, violence reduction and working constructively with partners.