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New warning to knife crime offenders

First time offenders in Scotland who are found in possession of a knife now face more serious penalties with a strengthening of the current prosecution policy. The Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC has announced changes which will target offenders and specific types of offending that pose significant danger to others.

The overall aim of the policy is to reduce offending and re-offending and to provide an effective deterrent. The strengthened knife crime policy came into effect on 22nd July 2011.

Anyone now found in possession of a knife: on licensed premises; when local gang involvement is probable; at a ‘hot spot’ for violence; and on public transport or at a bus or train station, will now be prosecuted on petition and their guilt decided by a Sheriff and jury rather than by summary complaint. This allows a greater sentencing power for the Sheriff and increases the maximum prison term from one to four years.

In addition there will be a presumption in favour of prosecution on indictment where the accused has previously been convicted of a relevant offence or has a previous conviction for a violent offence involving the use of a knife. There is also a new presumption in favour of opposing bail when the knife is presented or brandished if the case falls into any of these categories.