The Minister for Justice should look at the Scottish model in tackling a worrying rise in knife crime, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Speaking in a Dáil debate on Community Policing & Crime, Deputy Neale Richmond said: “Knife seizures are on the rise in Ireland, with the number of knives seized by Gardai increasing by a third since 2017.
“2019 saw the seizure of over 2,000 knives, and in the first six months of 2020 alone, over 1,2000 were seized, an increase of 13%. There has also been a 10% increase in hospitalisations from knife injuries such as stabbings.
“These are hugely worrying figures, especially given that one in six knives seized were taken from children aged between 12 and 17. Half of all seizures took place in Dublin, but this is far from an isolated issue.
“A focused and wide-reaching approach is required to address this issue from the bottom-up. I have previously been informed by the Minister that education and community engagement programmes are currently ongoing regarding knife crime, however, these initiatives must be stepped up and increased in order to fully tackle this issue.
“We must also look to other countries who have successfully taken on this issue and learn from them.
“Scotland launched a wide-reaching anti-violence campaign and a Violence Reduction Unit in 2005 when Glasgow was experiencing very high levels of crime, in fact it was the murder capital of Europe.
“They have successfully seen their homicides reduce by more than half through measures such as a knife amnesty, mentorships and education programmes in schools, youth services and youth training programmes.
“Indeed, Ireland is no stranger to weapons amnesty; in 2006 a two-month amnesty was introduced that saw hundreds of weapons surrendered, from shotguns to swords and pistols to knives.
“We can follow Scotland’s example by introducing a wide-reaching and all-encompassing response to these increasing knife crime statistics.
“If funding is an issue perhaps we can use some of the €16 million seized so far by An Garda Síochána and other agencies?
“By getting these knives off the street and out of young people’s hands we will save lives and make the job of our hard pressed Gardai less dangerous,” Deputy Richmond concluded.