Knife arrests in Notts rise by 40 per cent in four years

Knife offences have risen in Nottinghamshire by almost 40 per cent
Knife offences have risen in Nottinghamshire by almost 40 per cent

Knife offences in Nottinghamshire have increased by almost 40 per cent over the last four years, police figures show.

Across England and Wales, the number of fatal stabbings hit the highest level since comparable records began, more than 70 years ago.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, described the findings as "shocking and deeply concerning".

Nottinghamshire Police investigated 816 offences involving a knife or a sharp weapon between April 2017 and March 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That is a 38 per cent increase since 2013-14, when there were 590 cases, and a nine per cent rise over the last year.

There are 71 knife offences per 100,000 people in Nottinghamshire, slightly higher than the national average of 69 per 100,000.

Nationally the most common offence involving a knife or sharp object was assault with intent to cause serious harm, followed by robbery.

Diana Fawcett, chief officer at charity Victim Support, said: "We're now witnessing the highest ever number of knife-related deaths and it's deeply troubling that these rises are being driven by a huge increase in the number of young people whose lives are being lost to this epidemic.

"These figures further highlight the need for all agencies to come together to tackle this increasing crisis which is destroying lives and shattering communities."

The figures also show the number of offences involving a gun.

In 2017-18, Nottinghamshire Police recorded 94 cases where a firearm was used.

That’s 25 fewer than the previous year.

However, across England and Wales, gun offences are at their highest level since 2010-11.

The number of homicides in Nottinghamshire dropped last year, from 11 cases in 2016-17 to 15 in the latest period.

A homicide is a murder or manslaughter. Across the East Midlands, the number of homicides increased slightly by two per cent over the last year, to 49 cases.

Policing and fire minister, Nick Hurd, said: "Tackling the impact of violent crime remains a government priority and it is crucial to stamp this out."

Mr Hurd explained the Serious Violence Strategy targets early intervention against possible offenders.

"We are investing a further £220 million in community early intervention projects and have made clear that all public bodies need to treat serious violence as a priority," he said.

Mr Hurd added that the Government has proposed "the biggest increase in police funding since 2010".

Chief Inspector Donna Lawton, knife crime lead for Nottinghamshire Police, said knife crime has been rising across the country over recent years and is a challenge that needs to be tackled in partnership across society.

Although she said that knife crime has actually increased at a slower rate in Nottinghamshire than the rest of the country in the last year according to the latest figures available - with an 11 per cent rise in the year to September 2018 (from 794 to 880 offences) compared to the national average of 13 per cent.

"We are aware that knife crime has risen nationally and the number of repeat offenders has risen, which tells us clearly that enforcement on its own is not enough to tackle the issue," she said.

"Nottinghamshire Police recognises knife crime as a very serious offence and in 2016 we set up our own dedicated Knife Crime Team - the only one outside of the Metropolitan Police. Their intelligence-led approach means they have a high positive outcome rate of over 60% when they stop and search people - and they are part of the reason we are now putting more people before the courts for weapon-related offences. The Knife Crime Team has removed more than 125 weapons from the streets of Nottinghamshire over the last year. Other successes in the last 12 months include arresting 247 people and reporting 498 people for summons, as well as seizing 279 vehicles and around £115,000 of suspected criminal cash.

"However, enforcement is only one side of the efforts that go into trying to reduce knife crime. It takes offenders off the streets in the short term but doesn't fully address the underlying factors that have led to that person picking up a knife.

"In the longer term, there needs to be a more holistic approach with all partners across society working together to help educate young people and stop them picking up a knife in the first place. This starts at home, with parents and family members ensuring that their children know the dangers and help them prevent themselves coming into contact with knife crime. Sadly some young people have the misguided belief that carrying a knife makes them safer when in fact it puts them more at risk of harm.

"There are a range of other people who come into contact with young people, from teachers to health professionals, who can also play a part and give advice and support when they need it. An example of this is Redthread, a charity who started working in the Queen's Medical Centre last year, who offer support to young people affected by violence on how to break the cycle.

"We are also working hard on helping to educate young people. We have invested in introducing Schools and Early Intervention Officers into schools across Nottinghamshire, who speak to young people about issues including violence and knife crime.

"Nottinghamshire Police believes education is a key factor in preventing violence and it takes everyone to play a part in educating young people that carrying a knife can never become socially acceptable."