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Knife crime offences reach nine-year high

OPERATION SCEPTRE: Officers from the Metropolitan Police search for knives outside the Glass Mill Centre in Lewisham, south London

KNIFE OFFENCES in England and Wales have reached a nine-year high, new figures released today by the Ministry of Justice show.

In 2018, 21,484 knife and offensive weapon offences were dealt with by the criminal justice system, the highest number since 2009.

The publication of the statistics comes the day after the chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced an extra £100 million would be given to police across England and Wales to help them tackle knife crime.

The government has been heavily criticised for the reduction in funding of the police and of officers. Since 2010, there has been a 21,000 drop in officer numbers.

The figures released by the Ministry of Justice also show that knife crime offenders are more likely to receive an immediate custodial sentence. In 2018, 37 per cent of knife offences resulted in an immediate custodial sentence, up from 20 per cent in 2008. Over the same period, there was also an increase in the average length of custodial sentences from 5.3 months to 8.1 months.

For 72 per cent of offenders it was their first knife offence, down from 80 per cent in 2008.

Earlier this month Sara Thornton, the chair of the National Police Chief’s Council, had called on the government to make available “emergency funding” to help the police deal with the rising number of knife crime incidents and deaths.

During an appearance on BBC Breakfast she said: “We think it’s an emergency and it needs some emergency funding. We need to have more officer hours on the streets, we know what tactics work about targeting hotspots about using stop and search about tackling county lines gangs but we just haven’t got the capacity, we just haven’t got the officers at the moment so we need some money now to pay for overtime to pay for mutual aid between forces.”

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