By Christine Lavelle
THE SUCCESS of Inverclyde’s No Knives, Better Lives campaign is spreading across the country this month as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Clackmannanshire join the crusade.
The campaign has been running in Inverclyde since June last year, and regular police searches have found that knife carrying has dropped by more than a fifth.
It aims to directly target young people and warn them of the potential dangers and devastating consequences of carrying a knife, designed to make sure they never pick one up in the first place.
Kenny MacAskill, Scottish justice secretary, announced the plan to expand the campaign.
He said: “The No Knives, Better Lives initiative has had a real impact in Inverclyde with 90 per cent of the local community seeing it as worth while.
“It is also incredibly encouraging that the local police have seen a 23 percent drop in the number of young people found carrying a knife despite an increase in the number of stop and searches in the area.
“We are working in partnership with the council, police, schools and young people in each area to create very local No Knives Better Lives campaigns that are tailored to each community and supporting the good work they are already doing.”
Mr MacAskill said the far reaching consequences of violence will have an impact on everyone’s lives, which is why it is so important to teach young people about the dangers of carrying a weapon.
He said: “Far too many lives are lost and people injured though mindless acts of violence – often because of the knife culture that blights some communities.
“That is why we are working to change the culture around violence in Scotland.”
Later this year, the initiative will launch a social networking campaign, depicting the life-changing choice between ‘knife-or-life’.
Councillor Jim Coleman, convener of Glasgow Community and Safety Services, said: “We will be delivering programmes in schools to raise awareness of the serious consequences of becoming involved in antisocial and criminal behaviour and this will go hand-in-hand with a series of mobile diversionary activities that will take place throughout the city.
“Violence and crime have a serious impact on our communities, and we need to work together to send a clear message to the small minority who break the law that their behaviour will not be tolerated in our society.”
Councillor Paul Edie, community safety leader at the City of Edinburgh Council, said the No Knives Better Lives campaign is a great initiative for the city as it sends out the message that serious criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.
He said: “We will also be working with the wider community to reassure them that we are looking into the contributory factors which lead to these offences taking place, and if we all stand together – the majority of this type of crime can be stamped out for good.”