Knife crime at highest level for a decade, new stats reveal
Last year saw the highest number of knife and offensive weapon offences for a decade, according to new statistics from the Ministry of Justice.
They show that in the year ending September 2019, 22,286 such crimes were formally dealt with by police and prosecutors.
This is a 3% increase on the previous year, and represents the highest figures since the year ending September 2009, when the number hit 26,364.
A fifth of those were committed by 10 to 17-year-olds, with more than 500 children getting immediate custodial sentences.
And the figures show the first quarter of 2019 was the worst three-month period on record for knife crime, hitting a record 5,812 offences
The MoJ say the overall increase from 2018 is driven by the numbers of people caught for possession of a knife, with these offences reaching more than 14,100 - “the highest since the series began” say the department.
There are also the highest number of repeat offenders for 10 years, as the number of people caught for possession of a knife for the first-time is down to 71%, its lowest level since the year ending September 2009 when it was at 80%.
The figures will be embarrassing for the Prime Minister, after Boris Johnson told ministers at Cabinet this week every department should now consider itself a criminal justice department.
It is part of a drive to look at the “complex causes of crime”, with the PM telling his senior team he wants to see a 20% cut in violent offences on his watch.
Labour’s Diane Abbott said: “There is no evidence in this data that the government’s new approach to tackling knife crime is having a positive effect.
“The number of offences is rising while fewer offenders are facing jail, clear signs of failure.”
The Shadow Home Secretary added: “Rising knife crime undermines all the Tory claims on law and order.
“Unfortunately, until they tackle the crises they created through cuts to policing, schools, to mental health and drug services, there can be little confidence of any major improvement.”
And the Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Daisy Cooper said: "With knife crime at its highest in a decade, the Conservatives’ approach to knife crime has clearly failed.
"They have unnecessarily criminalised thousands of young people, made them more likely to offend by locking them up on pointless short sentences, and undermined trust in the police through a surge in suspicion-less Stop and Search.”
But the PM’s official spokesperson said: “The Government is taking urgent action to tackle knife crime and keep people safe.
“These figures should serve as a stark warning to those carrying knives that you are more likely to be jailed, and for longer, than at any point in the last decade.
“The Prime Minister has made clear that making our streets safer is an urgent priority for his government.”
They added: "It’s the view of the PM that every department in Whitehall needs to be a criminal justice department and we need to use every tool available not just to be tough on criminals but to make sure we’re tackling the causes of crime.
“Driving down violent crime and making sure that serious offenders are properly punished and spend monger behind bars is a clear priority of the Government.”