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New campaign launched as city's knife crime rate slumps

CRIMES of handling an offensive weapon have dropped by more than two thirds in the last seven years in Glasgow, figures show.

The statistics were released as Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill launched a poster campaign in the city warning young people about the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife, and promoting positive choices.

The poster launch is part of the No Knives, Better Lives campaign, which began in Glasgow in 2010, and runs in 10 other local authority areas including Edinburgh.

Campaigners said all had shown a significant drop in knife-crime activity since the programme was introduced.

The poster campaign will run for four weeks across sites on bus shelters, phone kiosks and sport and recreation centres in communities most affected by violent behaviour in Glasgow.

Mr MacAskill said: "Crimes of handling an offensive weapon, including knives, have dropped dramatically in Scotland, falling 67% in Glasgow and 60% in Scotland since 2006/07.

"We have consistently said the best way to tackle violence is through education and prevention and our £2 million campaign has been a great success, with handling offensive weapons crime reducing significantly in all 10 areas where the initiative is running.

"Scotland already has the toughest knife crime sentencing regime in the UK and those caught risk a significant custodial sentence."

The figures are from the Recorded Crime Bulletin 2012/13.

Mr MacAskill launched the poster campaign at the Ashgill Recreation Centre, Milton, where a range of sporting activities are made available for young people, in support of the No Knives, Better Lives commitment to promote positive life choices.

The campaign is targeting Parkhead Cross, Govan Cross, Wyndford, Maryhill, Cranhill and Milton, which were chosen in partnership with Glasgow Community Safety Services.

Campaigners said the latest statistics showed youth crime was at its lowest level for 27 years, with a reduction of 50% across Scotland over the last six years alone.

Councillor Fariha Thomas, chairwoman of Community Safety Glasgow, said: "The results speak for themselves. Across Glasgow we have used a range of innovative tactics, such as hard-hitting talks in schools, youth work interventions, diversionary activities, tough enforcement on the streets and, like today's launch, the use of targeted advertising in areas where young people are known to congregate."

The other 10 local authorities in which the campaign is running are East and North Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, Clackmannanshire, West Dunbartonshire, South and North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, and West Lothian.

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