London knife crime hits record high with more than 15,000 offences in a year

Martin Bentham
Forensics at the scene of the latest killing in Barnet: Jeremy Selwyn

Knife crime in London has risen to a new high amid a nationwide surge in blade-offending, official figures revealed today.

The Office for National Statistics said that 15,080 knife offences were recorded in the capital during the 12 months to the end of last September.

It amounts to a two per cent rise on the previous year and indicates the Met’s efforts to bear down on the problem are having only limited effect.

The bleak statistics came as national figures released by the ONS showed a seven per cent rise in knife offending across England and Wales to 44,771 blade crimes, an average of more than 120 incidents a day.

Police at the scene of a stabbing in Finsbury Park earlier this month (PA Wire/PA Images)

In London, the only encouraging sign was an 18 per cent drop in fatal stabbings, which represented 16 fewer blade killings than the year before. But that still left a total of 71 knife homicides for the year.

The statistics also show there were 98 attempted knife murders, 805 threats to kill with a blade, and 166 rapes or sexual assaults by a knife-carrying attacker.

In addition there were 9,269 knife-point robberies in the capital and 4,671 crimes involving an “assault with injury or intent to cause serious harm” with a blade.

The statisticians said that even without figures for Greater Manchester — not included in today’s calculations because of previous counting problems — metropolitan areas including London accounted for a third of all knife crimes.

They added that London once again had the highest rate of offending with 169 offences per 100,000 people.

Meghan Elkin, from the ONS, said “the latest figure is the highest recorded”, but emphasised that the new increase was statistically small and significantly less than the seven per cent increase in blade offences in the capital during the previous comparable 12-month period, ending in September 2018.

She added: “The change in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments varied by police force in the last year, with London experiencing little change.

“However, London did see an 18 per cent decrease in the number of homicides involving a knife or sharp instrument. In other crime types we’ve seen increases in vehicle offences, robbery and burglary.”

Responding to today’s figures, Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said that it was “unacceptable that the knife crime crisis continues to destroy so many young lives” and reiterated warnings that this was a symptom of a “much wider, complex problem”.

Police at the scene following a fatal stabbing in Walthamstow (NIGEL HOWARD)

He added: “Urgent action must be taken to break the spiral of violence. The Government needs to work with children’s services, charities, social workers, youth workers, the criminal justice system and communities to tackle this crisis.”

Today’s official statistics follow the release yesterday by the Met of its own figures, covering the slightly later annual period to the end of 2019.

They showed a total for the year of 15,546 blade offences, amounting to a 5.9 per cent increase in such crimes over the 12-month period.

Scotland Yard chiefs, who warned that gang members are hiding knives in playgrounds and other public places in response to increased stop and search, said that an extra 100-strong “brigade” of experienced officers was being deployed to help to bring down blade offending.

They added that existing efforts to address the problem were also being “redoubled” and pointed to successes in bringing down the number of people injured by knives by 9.3 per cent during 2019.

Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons added: “Every single officer in the Metropolitan Police Service knows that tackling violence is their first priority.

“The public will see increased police activity as part our 2020 push to drive down violence in all its forms.”

Read more

Family of trainee engineer stabbed to death call for tougher sentences

Rory Stewart: I’d resign as London mayor if I didn’t cut knife crime

School exclusion 'tipping point' for youth knife crime, report warns

London knife crime at record high with 15,023 offences in a year

Mother’s plea to save others from ‘evil epidemic’ of knife crime

The basketball sessions hoping to lower knife crime