Crimes involving weapons have dropped by 60 per cent and violent crime is down by a third in a pilot area for a Government knife crime campaign, according to the Justice Secretary.

No Knives Better Lives was piloted in Inverclyde in 2009 and has now been rolled out to other parts of Scotland.

Speaking on a visit to Greenock, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "Crimes of handling an offensive weapon, including knives, have dropped dramatically in Inverclyde, falling by a massive 60 per cent since No Knives Better Lives was launched and are now at their lowest level in Scotland for 27 years.

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"We have consistently said the best way to tackle violence is through education and prevention and our campaign has been a great success, with handling offensive weapons crime reducing significantly in all 11 areas where the programme is running and youth crime across Scotland falling by 50 per cent over the last six years.

"There is never an excuse for carrying a knife and we will continue to work tirelessly with all of our partners to hammer the message home and change the culture in which some people think carrying a weapon is acceptable.

"Backed by our education programmes, Scotland already has the toughest knife crime sentencing regime in the UK and those caught risk a significant custodial sentence."

Statistics also show violent crime has fallen by 33 per cent in the same period since the scheme was launched - 2009/10 to 2012/13.

Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe said: "This campaign has had a significant impact on young people in Inverclyde but it is vital we maintain the momentum and continue to get the message across. Carrying a knife must not and will not be tolerated."