School crackdown on pupils who carry knives

Secondary pupils return next week to be greeted by publicity highlighting the dangers of carrying knives. Information packs timed to coincide with new legislation on knives in schools or on the streets were being sent out this week by the Scottish Office.

Since January 1 it has been illegal for anyone under 16 to buy a knife. The Secretary of State has written to headteachers urging them to make "fullest use" of the new packs. He is also asking them to display prominent posters to make pupils aware of the dangers of knives.

Michael Forsyth said: "Knives maim and kill. They can be lethal. School pupils, whether at school or outside, just like anyone else, may face up to two years' detention if they carry a knife without a very good reason."

In an attack on the "knife culture", Mr Forsyth said that pleading self-defence "is no good reason for carrying a knife. Not only will it not carry weight with the police or the courts, but it is often the case that the one who carries the knife ends up getting injured."

The new Offensive Weapons Act is intended to crack down on sales of all bladed and sharp objects to young people. It is an offence to sell knives, blades, axes, razor blades or any sharply pointed article to under-16s.

Only razor blades permanently enclosed in a cartridge and pocket-knives with a blade of 3 inches or less may be sold to children. Shopkeepers can be prosecuted for an illegal sale.

Mr Forsyth added: "The knives Bill which is currently before Parliament and has full Government support will further increase police powers to stop and search people whom they believe to be carrying knives and will make it an offence to market a knife in a way which suggests an aggressive use for it."

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