Headlines: November 13th, 2008

Members of the Scottish Parliament are to debate knife crime in direct response to a petition from the father of a boy stabbed to death last year. The debate will be hosted by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in mid-January and will aim to expand the debate on knife crime and provide a forum for a range of views from people and groups across Scotland.

The move was inspired by John Muir, who brought a petition to the committee in June this year after the death of his son Damian. The petition called on MSPs to urge the Scottish Government to introduce mandatory sentencing for offenders convicted of carrying knives or other dangerous weapons in public.

Petitions Committee Convener Frank McAveety said the issues raised by Mr Muir were important because they affected communities across the country. He added, “We want to create an opportunity for victims and their families, health workers and the police, who all see the terrible consequences of knife crime, to come together with policy makers, the legal profession and others to discuss knife crime. In some way I hope that together we can develop and influence thinking and address key issues such as how effective the law is in tackling knife crime.”

People and organisations invited to the debate include Chief Police Officers, lawyers, Victim Support, victims themselves, Mothers Against Knives and members of the Scottish Youth Parliament. The event will lead to the production of a report to be submitted to the Scottish Government for consideration as part of its forthcoming Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill.