Cases of handling offensive weapons have fallen sharply in Falkirk district since the SNP came to power in 2007, the latest figures have revealed.

In 2007-08, there were 11 such cases per 10,000 of the population in the Falkirk Council area but official statistics show this dropped to just 4 in 2016-17 – a 64% decrease. Across Scotland, a 65% drop was recorded.

The figures back up a recent statement by the Tory Government’s Justice Minister Rory Stewart that the rest of the UK “has a lot to learn from Scotland”. Knife crime in England and Wales rocketed by 22% last year.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson said: “The figures for Scotland are welcome news and prove that the SNP Government’s approach to issues such as knife crime has helped to make our communities safer.

“Thanks to our justice policies and our support for the police in our communities, there has been a marked drop in the number of weapons offences in Falkirk district and the country as a whole since 2007.

“This big decrease contrasts sharply with the trend south of the Border, so it’s no wonder that the UK Government is looking to Scotland for answers on how to tackle crime.

“Scotland’s groundbreaking Violence Reduction Unit and initiatives such as No Knives, Better Lives, which tackles knife-carrying among young people, are clearly having a positive impact.

“Since coming to power, the SNP has also put more police on the streets and taken decisive action to reduce reoffending, which has helped to drive down crime to its lowest level in more than four decades.”