Official figures show the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales at the highest levels since records began in 1946.
Investigations carried out by the Office for National Statistics have revealed that in the 12 months ending March 2018, the number of knife-related deaths totalled 285, an increase of 73 deaths compared with 2016/17.
London is still the most heavily affected area for knife crime, but other areas are catching up, including Staffordshire.
Over the last 12 months, knife-related crimes have increased in Staffordshire by 9%, with around 19% of offenders being below the age of 18.
Possession remains the main type of knife crime in the county, with many young people feeling the need to protect themselves, rather than planning to incite violence.
The Staffordshire Youth Commission, a project designed to engage with young people regarding police and crime issues, has declared that tackling knife and gang crime is one of their top priorities.
Olivia Lucas, Project Co-ordinator for the Commission said, “We’re looking to centre our work in 2019 around changing lives away from crime, by encouraging those young people involved in criminal lifestyles towards better opportunities.
“We’ve found in previous years that community breakdown leading to boredom is a key factor that leads young people to join gangs. We also found out through our 2000 conversations with young people across Staffordshire last year that the lack of belonging is a key factor because joining a gang provides a sense of family.” Lucas added.
Also hoping to tackle the rise in knife crime is Staffordshire Police. The Force is holding a week-long event launched by the Metropolitan Police known as ‘Operation Sceptre’.
The operation seeks to target both those who carry knives and those who supply knives for use as weapons.
Mark Hardern, Staffordshire Youth Police Violence Co-ordinator, said: “The key part is that the issue of knife crime cannot be solved by policing alone, it requires a multi-agency approach, as well as community and parents to get involved.
“We are doing lots to tackle knife crime and we are actively pursuing those who intend to cause harm within Staffordshire’s communities. We will do all we can to bring offenders to justice, however enforcement is just one element of the response needed. Knife crime cannot and must not be treated in isolation.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said he wants knife crime to be treated “like a disease” after speaking at crisis talks held with police chiefs from the seven forces most affected by knife offences.
“I want serious violence to be treated by all parts of government, all parts of the public sector, like a disease and I want us to tackle it the same way – everyone would come together.” Mr Javid said.
In 2018 there were 42,5957 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument, the highest number since 2011, when police cuts were introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.
Prime Minister Theresa May is under increasing pressure to provide emergency funding and place more police on the streets.
However, May has insisted there is “no direct correlation” between police cuts and the increased number of knife-related fatalities.
Knife Crime in Staffordshire – The Statistics
- Knife crime has increased in Staffordshire by 9% (106 crimes) over the last 12 months
- The top three threats in relation to knife crime in Staffordshire are possession of weapons, other violence against the person and personal robbery.
- 18.2% of knife crimes are domestic related. Domestic related knife crime reduced by 4% compared to the previous 12 months
- 19% of offenders are under 18 years of age
- Possession of weapons and personal robbery where a knife is used /carried have both increased by 25% in the last 12 months