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Dramatic drop in knife handling among young Scots thanks to 'life-changing' programme

Young men - Open Aye/No Knives Better Lives

Dramatic drop in knife handling among young Scots thanks to 'life-changing' programme

The number of Scottish youths convicted of handling an offensive weapon has fallen by 85 per cent in the past decade, a 10-year report into the No Knives Better Lives (NKBL) project has revealed.

Since the NKBL programme began in 2009, the amount of young people aged under 18 convicted of handling an offensive weapon had reduced from 456 to 68 in 2017-18, the report found.

Overall the number of violent crimes recorded by the police in Scotland fell by 43 per cent, and handling an offensive weapon, where it is not used to commit another offence, fell by 60 per cent.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said the NKBL programme, delivered by YouthLink Scotland with local partners, provided “life-changing prevention activity over the last decade”.

“While there is much more to do to ensure every young person, no matter where they are from, lives free from the harm caused by knife crime, I am very grateful to YouthLink Scotland, their partners and the many young people involved in helping make Scotland a safer, better country to grow up in,” Yousaf said.

NKBL was developed in response to high incidence of knife crime in Scotland, designed to deter young people from using and carrying a knife.

Young people told the programme they carried knives because they were afraid “about going into certain parts of town” or “everyone else was”, the report said.

The programme works with partners across 32 local authority areas in Scotland to prevent knife violence, by training hundreds of practitioners each year and using social media or school programmes to encourage young people to speak out if a friend is carrying a knife.

YouthLink chief executive officer Tim Frew said: “we have seen a significant reduction in the recorded incidence of violent crime and possession of offensive weapons in Scotland, particularly amongst young people.”

However, Frew cautioned their work was not over yet.

“The cyclical nature of the problem, coupled with the small increase in knife crime prevalence in 2018 means that it is important we do not rest on our laurels,” he said.

“A worrying resurgence of knife crime in other parts of the UK, particularly London, indicates that we need to keep working hard to keep our young people safe from the harmful practice of knife carrying. Prevention work must continue.”

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