Senior police officers examining ways to combat stabbings are turning their attention to Glasgow which has pioneered a highly successful knife crime prevention scheme.
In a city notorious for razor gangs and underworld violence, knife-related crime rose sharply three years ago. The number of knife murders and attempted murders more than doubled in 1992, with four people being stabbed on average each day. Detectives responded by introducing Operation Blade, a high- profile campaign supported by local authorities, the retail trade, schools, nightclub owners and the media.
Officers first announced a "knife amnesty", urging Glaswegians to "bin your deadly weapons or be put away yourselves". In the months that followed, 5,000 blades, including swords and machetes, were left in "knife banks" at police stations across the city
To back up the amnesty, officers mounted a stop-and-search campaign, searchingalmost 30,000 young peopleover four months. Nightclub owners joined the campaign by installing metal detectors and surveillance cameras. Hundreds of weapons were recovered. Backed up by a change in the law, which required those found carrying knives to prove they were for legitimate use, hundreds of prosecutions followed.
Almost 100 retailers agreed to remove knives from display, and detectives lectured schoolchildren on knife crime. The effect was swift and dramatic. By the end of 1993, the number of offences involving the possession of offensive weapons slumped by almost 25 per cent. Knife-related incidents fell by 37 per cent. Although knife-crime started to creep up again last year, figures are well down on those of the early Nineties.