Serious violence is violence that causes injuries so severe that they require hospital treatment. Across England and Wales in 2020 there were 4,100 hospital admissions for stab wounds caused by a sharp instrument. This was down from 4,800 in 2019, a fall that has been attributed to coronavirus lockdowns.
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 46,937 knife crime offences in the 12 months ending June 2021, a rise of over 80% from the low-point in the year ending March 2014, when there were 23,945 offences. (These statistics do not include those from Greater Manchester Police because of data recording issues.)
In the year to March 2021, there were 221 killings involving knives and 18,553 knife and offensive weapon offences were formally dealt with by the criminal justice service, a drop of 14% on the year before. This comes after a rise of 35% between 2014 and 2019 and is likely to have been driven by the pandemic.
Young men are the most likely group to be involved in knife crime, both as victims and perpetrators.
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.