Knife crime rises to another record high in West Midlands
Knife crime in the West Midlands hit a record high in 2018-19 – up 20 per cent over the past year, according to official figures.
Police recorded 3,428 offences involving knives or sharp instruments in the year to March 2019, the highest number since comparable records began in 2010-11.
There was a rise of 578 offences over the last 12 months, with the figure including 23 murders, 46 attempted murders, 96 threats to kill, 1,938 robberies and 1,298 stabbings that resulted victims suffering serious injury.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed that knife crime in the region has more than doubled in the last five years, having stood at 1,559 in 2014.
Overall crime went up by 11 per cent in the West Midlands Police force area, with violent crime up by a third and weapons offences up by 36 per cent over the year.
West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson has said the region is in the midst of a knife crime emergency, with PCC David Jamieson insisting the force needs more resources to combat rising violent crime.
Meanwhile in Staffordshire
Knife crime remained relatively unchanged in the Staffordshire Police area, with 674 offences in 2018-19.
The county saw an overall rise in crime of one per cent, with violent rime up six per cent and robberies up 16 per cent.
Across the country there were a record 43,516 offences involving knives or sharp objects in the year to March 2019, an annual rise of eight per cent.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “It’s unacceptable that the knife crime crisis continues unabated with offences at record levels.
“Children are not born with knives in their hands, knife crime is a symptom of a much bigger problem.
“Our frontline support services say vulnerable children and young people are being recruited and exploited by criminal gangs and forced to traffic drugs and carry knives.
“Urgent action must be taken so that future generations are not condemned to live in an endless spiral of violence.”
West Midlands Police recently received £7 million funding as part of Project Guardian, the majority of which it plans to plough into knife crime prevention.
The plans include taking on 75 new police staff investigators, spending £1.5m on diversion, mediation, support and mentoring projects, 15 new police cars and new metal detecting “knife wands”.
Mr Jamieson has also put £2m into tackling the root causes of violent crime, but said that “putting long term funding back in place” was the key to a long term solution to the crisis.
He said: “These statistics show crime is rising across the country and they prove that the West Midlands is sadly not immune.
“The government seems to be finally acknowledging that its cuts to policing have gone too far, but it still hasn’t pledged to increase police budgets in the long-term.
“These statistics should be a wake-up call for the government to ensure it gives police forces the funding they all require.
“Rather than continuing to reduce officer numbers beyond the 2,000 we have already lost in the West Midlands, it should start increasing resources so we can fight crime to the level the public expects."
“Despite the financial challenges we face, we are determined to get on with the job of keeping the people of the West Midlands safe and we are taking tough action."
Nationally, total police-recorded crime, excluding fraud and computer misuse, stood at 5.26 million offences in 2018-19 – up from 4.88 million in 2017-18, a rise of eight per cent.
The total number of violence against the person offences rose by a fifth year-on-year to 1.67 million, while robbery offences rose by 11 per cent, to a total of 85,736.