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Knife crime hits record high after 7% increase

Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument rose to 44,076.

(Katie Collins/PA)
(Katie Collins/PA)

By Flora Thompson and Ian Jones, PA

Knife crime in England and Wales hit a record high in the year to June, up by 7% on the previous 12 months.

Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument rose to 44,076, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday showed.

This does not include Greater Manchester Police, which records data differently.

Javed Khan, chief executive of charity Barnardo’s, said: “It’s totally unacceptable that the knife crime crisis continues to claim so many young lives, with offences at a record high.

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(PA Graphics)

“Knife crime is a symptom of a much wider, complex problem.“Too many young people are suffering a ‘poverty of hope’, and facing a future with no qualifications, no job prospects, and no role models, making them vulnerable to criminal gangs who force them to deliver drugs and carry knives.”

The total number of homicides recorded by police fell by 5%, from 719 to 681.

There was also a 14% fall in homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was involved, to 248 offences, mainly driven by a decrease in London.

There was an 11% rise in robbery to 88,177 offences, with 41% of these recorded in London.

The rise, which has been “consistent” since 2015, is “likely to reflect a real increase in these crimes”, the ONS said.

The number of crimes of violence against a person rose by 15% in the previous 12 months to almost 1.7 million.

Gun crime was up 4% to 6,734, the figures said, but warned that this data was provisional.

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(PA Graphics)

In total, police recorded crime rose by 7% to more than six million.

Excluding fraud and computer misuse offences, this stood at 5.27 million, an increase of 6%.

Meanwhile, separate figures also released on Thursday show that the proportion of crimes in England and Wales resulting in a charge or summons fell to another record low of 7.4% in the 12 months to the end of June.

This meant 393,112 suspects were charged or ordered to be in court during that time, according to the Home Office data.

In almost 45% of more than 2.36 million cases, the investigation was completed but no suspect was identified.

In at least 1.2 million cases (22.8%), the victim did not support further action.

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(PA Graphics)

Police Federation chairman John Apter said the figures come as “no surprise” as “officers continue to struggle to deal with delivering the basics in policing” because of cuts and forces “snowed under by demand”.

Merseyside Police chief constable Andy Cooke, who leads the National Police Chiefs’ Council work on crime, said the figures were a “symptom of the strain on policing as we try to manage growing crime and demand that is ever more complex”.

He said any rise in knife crime was “incredibly serious” but he was encouraged by figures showing the rate of increase was slowing, adding: “I am also concerned by increases in other offences, and that too few crimes are being solved and brought to court for justice to be done.

Crime, policing and fire minister Kit Malthouse said he was “deeply concerned” about the rise in some crimes and particularly knife crime, adding: “With 20,000 more police officers in the pipeline and urgent action on a number of fronts, not least drug dealing county lines, we are making progress.

“But there is a lot more to do and we have to get smarter and more focused.”

Joe Traynor, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “While overall levels of violence have remained steady, the number of offences involving a knife has continued to increase across England and Wales.

“However, the number of homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was involved decreased, driven by falls in London.

“There is a mixed picture in the total number of knife crime offences across police forces with the Metropolitan Police recording little change in the last year.”

PA

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