THE father of a young woman who was stabbed to death has backed moves to extend a successful knife-crime initiative across Scotland.
Nattalie Muir, 21, was killed in Whitburn, West Lothian, in 2010 by a schoolboy and two friends after she aborted his baby.
Her father, Calum, yesterday joined justice secretary Kenny MacAskill in rolling out “No Knives, Better Lives”, which has been credited with a dramatic reduction in knife crime in a number of pilot areas.
The Scottish Government has provided an extra £550,000 to extend the scheme from 11 local authorities to the country as a whole.
Mr Muir, whose daughter was killed by a single stab wound, has toured schools in West Lothian to discuss the dangers of carrying a knife since her death.
He said: “Initiatives like No Knives, Better Lives are vitally important in making young people aware of the terrible consequences that carrying a knife can have. Having lost my daughter, if this campaign can help just one family to avoid the same trauma, it will have been worthwhile.”
A 15-year-old boy and George Stewart, 34, both admitted culpable homicide following Miss Muir’s death. Emma Merrilees, 20, admitted murdering the mother-of-one by striking the fatal blow and was jailed for life.
Figures last month showed crimes of carrying an offensive weapon fell by 60 per cent since the launch of No Knives, Better Lives in the west of Scotland. There was a drop in knife-carrying and a 33 per cent fall in violent crime in Inverclyde since the scheme piloted there in 2009.
It was then rolled out to ten other areas, including Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Yesterday, Mr MacAskill said: “Since No Knives, Better Lives started in 2009, it has aimed to challenge attitudes to carrying knives and to work with young people to find alternatives to violence and make good decisions about their lives.
“There is no doubt that Scotland is a safer place than it was even a few years ago, with recorded crimes of handling an offensive weapon at their lowest level in 27 years, falling by 60 per cent since 2006-7, and violent crime at a 38-year low.
“Education and prevention is fundamental to tackling the root causes of violence and crime. Our priority is to change the culture in which some think carrying a knife is acceptable.
“They need to know they risk a significant custodial sentence. Scotland already has the toughest knife-crime sentencing regime in the UK.”