Knife crime epidemic worsens as number of offences hits a nine-year high with 22,000 cases in just 12 months – and only a THIRD of offenders are jailed
- Knife offences have hit a nine-year high after a surge in stabbings, figures show
- More than 22,000 cases were dealt with by the justice system last year
- But sentences were so soft that even many of those with several previous knife convictions avoided being locked
Knife offences have hit a nine-year high following a nationwide surge in stabbings, official figures reveal.
More than 22,000 cases were dealt with by the justice system last year – of which one in five involved children.
But only a third of offenders went to jail. Sentences were so soft that even many of those with several previous knife convictions avoided being locked up. Yesterday’s figures showed 561 criminals were spared prison despite having committed at least three knife offences in the past.
Experts said the courts were being pressured by the Government to avoid short jail terms, particularly for children. The data also revealed a 17 per cent fall in the number of under-18s convicted of knife crime who went to prison last year.
Knife offences have hit a nine-year high following a nationwide surge in stabbings, official figures reveal (stock image)
The rise in offences reflects a recent surge in fatal stabbings with victims ranging from a 14-year-old schoolboy to an 86-year-old grandmother (stock image)
The rise in offences reflects a recent surge in fatal stabbings with victims ranging from a 14-year-old schoolboy to an 86-year-old grandmother. But it is also a consequence of greater use of stop-and-search by police – leading to more individuals being caught in possession of a weapon.
According to the data from the Ministry of Justice, around 22,040 offences involving knives or offensive weapons were dealt with by the criminal justice system in the 12 months to March.
Car theft leaps threefold in 5 years
Car theft has increased up to threefold over the last five years, analysis of insurance claims has found.
With official figures showing a surge in the number of stolen vehicles in recent years, a major audit by insurers Direct Line has revealed Britain’s car crime hotspots. It shows that the number of car theft claims has more than doubled in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire.
But the West Midlands has seen the sharpest rise, with 8,933 claims made last year – more than three times the claims made in 2014. Most of them were made in Birmingham and the surrounding areas.
London remains the car crime capital of the UK, with 33 claims for every 10,000 vehicles – a rise of 61 per cent in five years. Some 12,342 claims were lodged last year, up from 7,664 in 2014.
The analysis provides fresh evidence of the resurgence of car crime in the UK, after years of decline. Official figures showed that 112,174 vehicles were reported stolen in the 2017-18 financial year – or 307 every day. This was up from just over 77,000 in 2013/14.
Police and insurance companies have said this is partly because modern keyless cars have provided easy pickings for thieves. So-called ‘relay devices’ can be used to hack signals transmitted by the key fob – sometimes while inside the owner’s home – to open a car door and start the engine.
This was up by 35 per cent since the same period in 2015 and the highest since 2010 when 23,667 cases were recorded.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: ‘We’ve heard from families [on the committee] whose lives have been devastated by knife crime. It’s shocking that the Government still don’t have a grip on this violent epidemic.’
Addressing the high numbers avoiding prison, Harry Fletcher, of the Victims’ Rights Campaign, said: ‘Courts are being urged to use jail as sparingly as possible. Politicians have made it very clear that they don’t want people going down for short periods of time, as prisons are overcrowded.’
The figures show that 4,586 criminals with one or more previous knife offences were spared jail in the 12 months to March – or 40 per cent.
Some 1,456 offenders with two or more previous convictions avoided jail – including 561 who had committed at least three offences.
This was despite a flagship ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy introduced by David Cameron in 2015, which urged judges to hand out sentences of at least six months.
The Ministry of Justice pointed out that the proportion of criminals going to prison for knife offences was at its highest level in ten years. But this was not the case for child offenders, with the number of sentences falling by 17 per cent in a year.
Justice Minister Robert Buckland insisted that the Government is ‘committed to doing everything in its power to stop knife crime and its devastating consequences on lives and communities.’