Scottish Government to call for UK-wide crackdown on online knife sales to young people

Written by Jenni Davidson on 31 January 2017 in News

Education Secretary John Swinney has written to the UK Government seeking UK-wide action on online knife sales

Knife - Image credit: PA Images

The Scottish Government is pushing for a UK-wide crackdown on online sales of knives to young people following the death of Aberdeenshire schoolboy Bailey Gwynne.

A review of the death of Gwynne, who was stabbed during an argument with a fellow pupil at Cults Academy in October 2015, made a number of recommendations.

One of those was to look into “further legislative controls” on the online sale of weapons.


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Outlining the Scottish Government’s response to the recommendations, John Swinney noted that the Scottish Government had already taken measures to crack down on sales on knives to under-18s through shops, with the maximum penalty for possession of an offensive weapon increased in March 2016 and a licence required in Scotland to sell knives for non-domestic use, but these could still be circumvented through the internet.

Gwynne’s killer, a sixteen-year-old schoolboy had admitted to buying weapons online and taking them to school on several occasions.

The review of the case by child welfare expert Andrew Lowe found the teenager’s death was “partially avoidable”.

Education Secretary John Swinney said the recommendation about online weapon sales would be taken forward, but the most effective way would be through UK-wide controls.

He said: "We can act to change the law in Scotland on the purchase of knives, but as the purchase and delivery of knives crosses the borders of all UK countries, it is clear that the impact of a change only in Scotland would be limited.

"The most effective way to ensure more robust controls are in place would be through UK-wide action.

"Accordingly, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice has written to Sarah Newton MP, the UK's minister for vulnerability, safeguarding and countering extremism, to seek agreement to a UK-wide approach to address concerns about the online sale and delivery of knives."

The Scottish Government will also include new guidance on weapons and violence in schools in its guidance on schools exclusions, but has decided not to give teachers statutory powers to search pupils.

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