Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Oct. 18 that the total of 39,332 recorded knife crimes between July 2017 and June 2018 represents a 12 percent rise in violent crime involving edged weapons and other sharp instruments.
Statisticians noted, however, that this figure excludes the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) numbers, with respect to which they additionally “identified undercounting of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument.” Including the GMP figures—undercounted as they are—the UK saw at least 41,884 knife crimes.
Meghan Elkin, head of the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, told The Independent that knife crime has been on the rise for four years.
“There have been some improvements in recording by police but we do think this is a genuine increase,” she said.
Crimes involving knives in the UK are most prominent in metro areas.
“While knife crime remains a rare crime, today’s figures show knife crime recorded by the police in London is at the highest level since data started to be collected for the year ending March 2009,” ONS officials noted.
London Tops Knife-Crime Rankings
Knife crime in London has risen to a record level, with ONS analysts noting a total of 14,987 knife crimes from July 2017 to June 2018, which is a 15 percent year-on-year rise.
This figure includes 91 knife killings, 170 rapes or sexual assaults carried out at knife-point, and 8,363 robberies using a blade.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Metropolitan police insist they are doing everything possible to tackle knife crime, including ramping up the use of weapons-focused stop-and-search and a succession of anti-knife crime operations.
Law enforcement officers specialized in tackling “violent crime, weapon-enabled crime, and serious criminality” were deployed in February with the creation of a 272-strong Violent Crime Task Force, supported by a 15-million-pound ($20 million) budget. Reinforced by greater stop-and-search powers, the unit has carried out 20 percent more weapons-focused stop-and-searches than a year previous.
Sadiq Khan’s office also announced it will be increasing the number of front-line police officers on London’s streets by investing an additional 140 million pounds ($183 million) in the Met Police.
John Apter, chair of Britain’s Police Federation, has called for heftier law enforcement numbers not just in metropolitan areas, but throughout the UK.
“We need more boots on the ground,” Apter told The Independent. “We have lost nearly 22,000 officers since 2010, and there are now only 122,404 across the whole of England and Wales tasked with trying to stem the rising tide of violent crime. It’s not enough.”
The surge in knife crime claimed a fresh victim on the eve of publication of the new ONS report.
A father of two was killed Oct. 17 outside his London apartment after telling dealers to stop selling drugs there.
“He was on his back in his boxers and police were trying to resuscitate him,” a witness recounted, according to an earlier Epoch Times report. “He’s obviously been stabbed in his neck and the head. There was blood everywhere.”
Overall Crime Rates Flatline But Murders Soar
Analysts note that overall UK crime rates have hit a plateau after steadily falling for several decades.
“Over recent decades, we’ve seen continued falls in overall levels of crime but in the last year the trend has been more stable,” said statistician Joe Traynor of the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice.
Some types of crime, however, saw a sharp increase.
ONS figures show that the overall murder rate in the UK has soared by 14 percent from 630 last year to 719 this year.
“The number of homicides increased following a long-term decline,” states the ONS report, adding that “many of these lower-volume, higher-harm types of violence tend to be concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas.”