PETER smiles confidently through his broken teeth.

"I'm getting them fixed," the 23-year-old says as he describes his transformation from junior underworld enforcer to peer mentor for Scotland's first and only project to wean youngsters away from organised crime. "I am not sure I would recognise myself, my haircut, my suit."

Peter - not his real name - is one of the secret weapons at Action for Scotland's embryonic scheme. Starting at 13, he was gradually embroiled into a life of crime, vandalising the homes of addicts who did not pay their debts. Eventually he ended up in jail. Now, after turning his life around, he has a new job: to be a a more inspiring role model for those on the cusp on gangland careers than drug dealers in sporty Range Rovers. "You have got a fighting chance if we keep bringing on guys like me. I can say: 'Look where I was three years ago and look where I am now'. That is solid proof that it can be done. We will be there to dust off these boys when they fall and skin their knees. These are Scottish children at the end of the day. The message is: show a bit of love."

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