Pubs with bad reputations are to be banned from serving beer in glasses, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has announced.

The Redditch MP revealed that pubs will be forced to use plastic replacements, as part of a wide-ranging plan to reduce the level of violence in Britain.

It is part of a range of proposals which also include giving parents the right to check whether an adult has convictions for sex offences against children.

Police in Warwickshire, Cleveland, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire are to run pilot schemes giving parents the ability to check the backgrounds of people coming into contact with their children.

The measures were included in a detailed plan for tackling violence, published by Ms Smith yesterday. It said councils will be asked to identify "high risk" pubs and nightclubs where violence is a problem.

These will be expected to replace their glassware with plastic - and if they refuse, councils will be encouraged to intervene by threatening to remove their licence.

Police, health workers, social services and councils will also be asked to share information on individuals and addresses linked to binge drinking and violence, in order to identify problems and develop a response at an early stage.

Other proposals include giving police high-tech "search wands" to help them check suspects for knives.

Forces will also receive portable "knife arches", which suspects pass through. The technology has already been used successfully by British Transport Police, including at New Street Station in Birmingham.

The plan comes amid increasing concern about drunken violence in the streets and the escalation in the use of knives, which were linked to 258 deaths in 2006-07 compared with 219 the previous year.

But it was criticised by Conservatives last night as an exercise in "papering over the cracks".

Ms Smith said: "I am serious about tackling the serious violence we see, if it occurs on our streets or if it occurs behind closed doors.

"I want nobody to be under any misapprehension that you are safer if you carry a knife, as some young people tell me they think they are," said Ms Smith. "We will be running a very large campaign to make that clear.

"I want people to feel safer from knives when they go out. That's why we will be investing in additional knife arches and wands to be used by the police and others where they think that's appropriate so people can feel confident in our public spaces that people aren't carrying knives."

Ms Smith said she wanted to see courts imposing tougher sentences on those caught with knives, including the use of a new four-year maximum jail term available to them.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "Jacqui Smith is belatedly papering over the cracks of an enormous problem of the Government's own making. Violent crime has doubled under Labour, the result of disastrous policy decisions - including a multitude of perverse law enforcement targets, reams of red-tape stifling the police and a lax approach to binge-drinking and drugs.

"Tinkering with targets and publicity campaigns are a drop in the ocean of the serious and sustained action required to reverse the tragic scourge of violence on our streets."