Number of people killed with a knife in 2021/22 was highest for 76 years

The number of people killed with a knife in England and Wales in 2021/22 was the highest on record for 76 years.

Around four in 10 homicides were committed using a knife or sharp instrument in the year to March 2022 (282).

This is a 19% rise compared with the previous year and the highest annual total since records began in 1946, according to analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

CRIME Homicide
(PA Graphics)

The 2021/22 total number of homicides – murder, manslaughter and infanticide – is similar to a previous high of 281 in the 12 months to March 2018, a report published on Thursday said.

As in previous years, using a knife or sharp instrument continued to be the most common method of killing.

The ONS said the recent increase was driven by an 18% rise in the number of male victims, from 184 to 218.

The largest volume increase was for teenage boys aged 16 to 17, rising from 10 homicides to 24.

The latest analysis shows 177 victims of homicide by knife or sharp instrument were white (63%), an increase of 36 compared with the previous year.

There were 59 black victims (21%), compared with 57 in the previous period. Of these, 25 were aged 16 to 24.

The ONS analysed data held by the Home Office Homicide Index, which contains detailed information about each killing recorded by police in England and Wales.

In the 12 months to March 2022, the total number of homicides returned to levels seen prior to the coronavirus pandemic, with 696 victims recorded.

Some 69 of the victims were aged between 13 and 19. Of these, 51 were killed by a knife or sharp instrument.

The homicide rate was 11.7 per million population, with the rate for boys and men (16.9 per million population) more than twice that for women and girls (6.6 per million population).

The report also noted an increase in the number of domestic homicides (134) in the period, where people were killed by partners, ex-partners, parents, children or other family members. While this was 18 more than the previous year, it was a similar number to the average over the last decade (129).

In a third of cases in which women were killed (60), the suspect was their partner or ex-partner.