Since 2014, knife crime in England and Wales has been on the rise, reaching it’s peak in September 2018 according to the latest report from the National Statistics Office (ONS). The number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments went up by 8% to 39,818 from the 36,776 offences of the previous year.
London has the largest amount of knife crime with 35% of all offences recorded in 2018 originating from the capital city. London also has the highest rate of knife crime with the metropolitan police seeing 168 offences per 100,000 people in the last year. At the other end of the table, Surrey recorded just give offences per 100,000 people.
The perspective changes however if the rate of increase is considered with Kent and West Yorkshire seeing huge jumps in the number of recorded offences.
Compared to the year ending March 2011, the number of offences involving a knife or a sharp instrument recorded by the police has increased in 39 out of 44 of the police forces.
In the West Midlands the increase number rose by 3%, to Kent or West Yorkshire where the rate has doubled in the past eight years. London has seen a rise in 11% in that same amount of time.
Despite the fact that knife crime has risen, police resources have gone down.
According to the National Audit Office, police funding from central and local sources fell by 19%, taking inflation into account, between 2010-11 and 2018-19. That compares with the 31% increase in police spending between 2000-01 and 2009-10.
Figures from the Home Office show a reduction in the total workforce police of 18% (that includes officers, police and community support officers, and other police staff) between March 2010 and March 2018.
The police forces who have experienced greatest cuts are those who most rely on government funding.
Northumbria (down 25%) recorded the highest funding reduction between 2010-11 and 2018-19 in the country, followed by the West Midlands (down 23%).
As for the workforce, Cleveland and Lincolnshire recorded the largest reduction, with more than 30% fewer workers in 2018/19 compared to 2010/11.
Almost nine in every 10 crimes involving a knife or a sharp instrument in England and Wales were robberies or violent assaults.
Rape, attempted murder, sexual assault and homicide accounted for a very small proportion of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument.
Nevertheless, the number of knife-related homicides has increased since 2014. Last year, four in every 10 homicides involved a knife or a sharp instrument
The number of admissions to NHS hospitals resulting from assault with a sharp object has also increased. Between April 2017 and March 2018 there were 4,986 admissions. That number is 15% higher than the previous year.
Over 90% of the patients are male and about 90% of them are adults. However, the number of patients under the age of 18 has risen from 318 in the year ending March 2013 to 573 in the year ending March 2018.
One in five of the knife offences resulting in caution or conviction involved a person aged 10 to 17. The number of offences related to teenagers has been increasing since 2013.
In 2018, there were 4,459 sentences related to people underage – the number is 69% higher than in 2013 with 2,639.
The figures also show that the sentences for knife crime have been getting tougher, with a higher proportion of custodial sentences.
In year ending September 2018, 36% were sent to prison and an extra 18% were given a suspended custodial sentence.
The average time for those jailed for a knife crime has gone up from around five months in 2008 to eight months in 2018.