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Homicides up 14% to highest number since 2008

Official police-recorded data shows violent crimes are up by 19%, while offences involving a knife rose by 8% in the year to September 2018.

The number of homicides in England and Wales has increased by 14% in a year to the highest level since 2008, new figures show (Peter Byrne/PA)
The number of homicides in England and Wales has increased by 14% in a year to the highest level since 2008, new figures show (Peter Byrne/PA)

The number of homicides in England and Wales has increased by 14% in a year to the highest level since 2008, new figures show.

Official police-recorded data shows violent crimes are up by 19%, while offences involving a knife rose by 8% in the year to September 2018.

It comes amid a 7% year-on-year rise in overall crime, with a total of 5,723,182 offences recorded – the highest number in a 12-month period since the year ending March 2004, when there were 6.01 million.

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(PA Graphics)

Chief Constable Bill Skelly, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for crime recording and statistics, said: “Rising crime, increased terrorist activity and fewer police officers have put serious strain on the policing we offer to the public.

“We are determining the additional capabilities and investment we need to drive down violence and catch more criminals – and we will make the case at the next Government Spending Review.”

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were 90 more homicides recorded by the police in the year to September 2018 – excluding victims of large-scale incidents such as terror attacks – with the total number up from 649 in 2017 to 739.

It is the highest number in a 12-month period since the year to March 2008, when 775 homicides were recorded, although in the year to September 2008 there were 714.

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(PA Graphics)

Alex Mayes, policy and public affairs adviser at charity Victim Support, said: “These figures starkly highlight the devastating human cost of the recent rises in serious violence that we’ve seen across the country.

“Working with bereaved families through our national homicide service we know just how destructive these shocking crimes are.”

The data published on Thursday reveals that crimes involving violence against the person are up by 19%, which includes a 41% increase in stalking and harassment offences.

It also shows an 8% increase in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments – a figure which does not include Greater Manchester Police after an internal review revealed they were under-counting these offences.

There was a 15% rise in the number of hospital admissions for assaults in England involving a sharp implement, according to the data, while the number of firearms offences dropped by 4%.

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(PA Graphics)

Figures released by the British Transport Police (BTP) this week suggest knife crime on Britain’s rail network has more than tripled in the last three years.

The police-recorded figures show a 17% increase in offences of robbery and a 3% rise in vehicle offences, largely due to a 10% jump in “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle”.

However, the other measure used to track levels of offending, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), showed most types of crime have stayed at similar levels to the previous year.

Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery, are rising Helen Ross, ONS

Commenting on the figures, Helen Ross, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “In recent decades we’ve seen the overall level of crime falling, but in the last year it remained level.

“There are variations within this overall figure, depending on the type of crime.

“Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery, are rising.

“We have also seen increases in some types of ‘lower-volume, high-harm’ violence including offences involving knives or sharp instruments.”

Separate figures released on Thursday show police officer numbers have fallen by 15% since a peak of 144,353 in 2009.

There were 21,958 fewer by the end of September 2018, when there were 122,395 police officers in the 43 forces in England and Wales.

However, an extra 0.4% – or 466 more officers – from 2017 represents the first year-on-year increase since 2009.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “These statistics show that your chance of being a victim of crime remains low, but we recognise that certain crimes – particularly violent crime – have increased, and we are taking action to address this.

“The Offensive Weapons Bill will give police extra powers to tackle knife crime and to get weapons off the street. The serious violence strategy puts a greater focus on early intervention and stopping young people from being drawn into crime in the first place.

“We have also put forward the biggest increase in police funding since 2010. It’s encouraging to see the first signs of police officer numbers rising in the statistics today.”

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