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.
““The number of children stabbed and shot this weekend that we have had to treat at St Barts is very upsetting. This is an epidemic of violence against and between kids and we ought to be outraged.””
Jonny Scrimshaw, emergency doctor, St Barts Hospital
Knife crime across the country increased by 22 per cent in 2017, according to the Office of National Statistics. In the year to March 2018 there were 40,147 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument.
Stabbings in London are at their highest level in seven years. In the first 100 days of 2018, 52 people were murdered in the capital, most of them with knives. Eleven of them were teenagers. Young men are the most likely group to be involved in knife crime, both as victims and perpetrators.
Last year, more than 19,000 people were caught carrying a knife in England and Wales. Four in five of these were aged over 18, but children are increasingly being drawn in to violent criminal activity too. Figures obtained by The Sun showed that in 2016, 39 children aged 10 and 11 were given cautions for carrying knives. And NHS figures show the number of stab victims in England aged 10 to 16 rose by 63 per cent between 2012 and 2017.
Around half the rise in robbery, knife and gun crime is due to improvements in police recording of offences. The rest can largely 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.