Scottish Office home affairs minister James Douglas-Hamilton today praised both the police and the public for their efforts in fighting the scourge of crime and promised that the government would continue to make law and order its top priority.
'Public vigilance and hard work by our police forces has helped recorded crime in Scotland fall each year since 1992, and this welcome trend comes at a time when the Crime Survey shows that more people are actually reporting crimes. There are clear signs that the public are responding positively to national campaigns and local police initiatives, such as the very successful Strathclyde Spotlight Initiative.
'It is important to stress that the government and police are, and will continue to do, everything in their power to combat violent crime, with one of the latest positive steps being to make it an offence to sell a knife or blade to an under-16.
'Analysis of the 1993 Scottish Crime Survey, published last August, shows an estimate that actual crime only rose by only five per- cent between 1981 and 1992, at a time when increasing crime has been shown to be an international phenomenon, and that violent crimes fell by seven per-cent between 1987 and 1992.
'But we are not be complacent, and as well as the initiatives already mentioned, we have an important piece of legislation going through parliament at this moment which will strengthen the powers of the police and courts and additional protection to the public.
'Proposals such as mandatory life sentences for serious repeat offenders, harsher jail sentences for drug traffickers, the abolition of parole and early release, increasing a sheriff's sentencing powers and electronic tagging, to name but a handful of provisions in the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill, are further steps in the right direction. They are tough measures which will ensure that crime must not and will not pay.'