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Jail terms up by 35% for weapons offences

29 April 2009

The increase in the average sentence handed down to those convicted of handling an offensive weapon sends a message that Scotland's courts are treating knife crime with the seriousness such crimes demand, according to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

The trend is revealed in the statistical bulletin Criminal Proceedings In Scottish Courts, 2007-08 published today. The figures show that the average length of determinate custodial sentences increased by 7% in 2007-08 – and that for those convicted of handling an offensive weapon, the average sentence increased by 35%, to more than seven months.

Mr MacAskill said: "These statistics should act as a wake up call for those people – generally young men – who think that carrying a knife brings with it protection. However rather than protection, it is likely to bring a prison sentence – and a lengthy one at that.”

His comments came on the same day that Sheriff Kevin Drummond vowed to jail people who were guilty of verbal and physical abuse towards medical staff.

The sheriff's pledge came after meeting nurses and doctors at the Borders General Hospital, and hearing of an increase in drunken attacks.

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