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This briefing looks at statistics on knife crime in England and Wales. It uses police recorded crime data to evaluate trends over time and to compare knife crime between police force areas, with a section focussing specifically on knife crime in London. Sentencing statistics are also used to look at outcomes of proven posession offences. The final section of this briefing examines NHS hospital data to supplement police and court data.

Recorded crime

The ONS publishes data on police recorded crime involving a knife or sharp instrument for a selection of serious violent offences. In the year ending March 2021, there were around 41,000 (selected) offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester Police Force).  This was 15% lower than in 2019/20 and 27% higher than in 2010/11. Recent trends in knife crime have been affected by undercounting in the Greater Manchester Police Force area prior to 2018/19. Increases in recorded offences since 2018/19 are directly related with improvements in recording practices.

Source: ONS, Crime in England and Wales: Other related tables, Table F3a.

Homicide

Sharp instrument homicide data has been collected by the Home Office since 1977. In the year ending March 2021 there were 224 homicides (currently recorded) using a sharp instrument, including knives and broken bottles.

Knife Crime by police force area

ONS data shows that West Midlands Police Force recorded the highest rate of 156 offences involving a knife per 100,000 population in 2020/21, a 41% increase on a rate of 118 recorded in 2019/20. Durham had the lowest rate of 22 offences per 100,000 individuals (down from 26 in 2019/20).

Source: ONS, Crime in England and Wales: Police Force Area data tables, Table P6.

Proven offences and offenders

Sentencing statistics from the Ministry of Justice shows that in the year ending March 2021, there were 18,553 disposals given for possession of a knife or offensive weapon. Juveniles (aged 10-17) were the offenders in 19% of cases.

Hospital admissions

Data from NHS Digital shows that there were 4,091 finished consultant episodes (FCE) recorded in English hospitals in 2020/21 due to assault by a sharp object. This was 14% lower than in 2019/20 but 12% higher than in 2014/15.

 

Source: NHS Digital, Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2020-2021: External causes tables


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