Serious violence is violence that causes injuries so severe that they require hospital treatment. Across the UK in 2016/17 there were 4,054 hospital admissions for stab wounds caused by a sharp instrument.
Although violent crime in the UK has been falling steadily since its peak in the mid-1990s, from 2014 onwards certain types of violent crime has been rising again, especially offences involving knives and guns.
There were 43,516 knife crime offences in the 12 months ending March 2019. This is an 80% increase from the low-point in the year ending March 2014, when there were 23,945 offences, and is the highest number since comparable data was compiled. (These statistics do not include those from Greater Manchester Police because of data recording issues.)
In 2017/18, there were 285 killings involving knives. One in four victims were men aged 18-24. Young men are the most likely group to be involved in knife crime, both as victims and perpetrators.
In the year to March 2019, 22,041 people were cautioned, reprimanded or convicted for carrying a knife in England and Wales, most of whom were adults. But one in five – 4,451 – was under the age of 18.
Some of the increase in serious violence be attributed to drug-market violence and the growing phenomenon of ‘county lines’, where criminal gangs set up drug-dealing operations in places outside their usual operating area.
It must be remembered that homicides and knife and gun crime still account for just 1% of all recorded crime, but their impact on society is significant. Because of this, the government has made tackling serious violence a top priority, and in April 2018 it set out a new Serious Violence Strategy backed with £40m of Home Office funding.
This strategy makes clear that communities have a key role to play in tackling violent crime. It states: “In particular this strategy needs the support of communities thinking about what they can themselves do to help prevent violent crime happening in the first place and how they can support measures to get young people and young adults involved in positive activities.”
To find out more about how to help protect your community from getting caught up in violent crime, and what to do if you suspect someone is carrying a knife, click here.