The debate pits the Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, who would like to see the practice of warrantless search for knives (think NYC’s “Stop and Frisk” policy) curtailed against former First Minister Alex Salmond who is concerned that ending the practice would lead to an increase in knife crime.
Mr Salmond said he wanted to see “far more analysis of the impact on knife crime of the use of stop and search”.
Speaking during the final Holyrood debate of the bill, the Aberdeenshire East MSP pointed out that knife crime, which he called a “great social evil”, was mentioned three times in the advisory report on stop and search, while alcohol is mentioned 16 times.
He said “extensive use” of stop and search provided “almost a guarantee” that there would not be “widespread” carrying of knives.
He said: “I would like the minister to address whether he is absolutely satisfied that nothing in this change of powers is going to change the downward trajectory of knife crime in Scotland.
“I’m sure there is no member in this chamber who would want to do anything other than make absolutely sure that the powers available to the police are the maximum that’s necessary to make sure that knife crime continues to decline in Scotland.”
However, it appears that while knife crime has been increasing in Wales and England, there has been a drop in Scotland, despite decreasing use of Stop and Search.
Mr Matheson replied that he was confident that police would still have the necessary powers to continue to drive down knife crime.
He said: “There’s absolutely no doubt that since 2006 there has been a dramatic reduction in the level of knife crime, in particular a significant reduction in the west of Scotland.
“The statistics also show there’s been a significant drop-off over the last three years of stop and search. Knife crime has continued to decline during that.
“I’m confident that given the code of conduct and the considerations given to this matter, police will have the necessary powers to allow them to continue that work.
“I should add that tackling knife crime goes much wider than stop and search itself.”
Wider indeed. Apparently, a report on Scottish knife crime names alcohol as a specific factor in many crimes.
Speaking during the final Holyrood debate of the bill, the Aberdeenshire East MSP (Salmond) pointed out that knife crime, which he called a “great social evil”, was mentioned three times in the advisory report on stop and search, while alcohol is mentioned 16 times.
I suppose a possible explanation, and this is pure supposition, is that Scotland has a more homogeneous population than England in particular. Anti-alcohol campaigns are likely to show a greater effect in Scotland which does not have the same level of marauding street-gangs of unassimilated Muslim immigrants as a confounding variable.
Also included in the bill are increases in mandatory minimum sentencing and a lengthening of pre-charge detention periods.
I know that the referendum has come and gone, and Union won out. Let’s face it though, the below video is much more entertaining than reading about Scottish knife laws.