Knife crime hits record high as murder rate also soars to 10-year peak

The scene where an unidentified 14-year-old boy died late Tuesday after he was found with stab injuries, in the Waltham Forest area of north-east London, England, Wednesday Jan. 9, 2019.   The recent rise in knife crime has prompted London Mayor Sadiq Khan to call to for a task force to address violent crime. (John Stillwell/PA via AP)
The scene where a 14-year-old boy died late Tuesday after he was found with stab injuries, north-east London. (AP)

Knife crime reached the highest ever recorded level last year while the number of homicides reached its highest peak in more than a decade in England and Wales, official figures show.

Police recorded 40,829 offences involving knives or sharp objects in 2018, an increase of 6% compared to last year and the highest since records began in 2011.

London which has been the centre of the media coverage regarding knife crime saw just a 1% increase, but the issue is spreading much quicker in the north - Merseyside saw a 35% increase and North Yorkshire 21%. The British Transport Police saw an increase of 54%.

The number of homicides last year stood at 732, the highest in any calendar year since 2007 when it hit 765.

Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument. (PA)
Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument. (PA)

The data released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) came after a spate of knife crimes involving young people, triggered a political row over cuts to police funding.

One of the latest killings was that of an 18-year-old man stabbed to death in the Harborne area of Birmingham on Wednesday evening.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called the figures “deeply troubling” and said they show “these reckless cuts must end”.

Fellow Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the “disturbing increase” in violent crime comes as arrests continue to fall.

A police cordon around the scene where a teenager was stabbed to death in Harborne, Birmingham on Thursday. (SWNS)
A police cordon around the scene where a teenager was stabbed to death in Harborne, Birmingham on Thursday. (SWNS)

“The police are completely overstretched and crime prevention work is far too limited,” she said.

“The problem of violent crime is going to get worse unless the Government acts, and it is families and communities across the country who are paying a terrible price.”

Homicides, which include murder and manslaughter, increased 6% in the 12 months leading up to December compared with the year before. The total number of crimes recorded by police was 5.8 million, which was 7% more than in 2017.

The ONS release showed an increase in knife offences in 31 of the 43 police forces across England and Wales.

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The 40,829 offences involving knives or sharp objects were reported across the forces excluding Greater Manchester Police, which records data differently.

When comparable records began in 2011, this figure stood at 30,627.

The number of violent offences recorded by police was more than 1,608,500 last year – a 19% increase on 2017.

However, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) suggested there was no overall increase in violent offences.

The ONS considers the CSEW a better indication of overall trends for this type of offending because lower-level attacks may be picked up in the survey but not reported to officers.

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