After the government announced fresh plans to tackle rising knife crime, Mersey Mash looks into the worrying statistics behind this violent epidemic. Daniel Williams reports.
Knife crime – and violent crime overall – has reached its highest level in Merseyside since 2011.
And there was a shocking 21% increase in knife crime in just 12 months – from June 2017 to June 2018.
There were more than 900 serious offences involving sharp objects – the highest in a single year since 2011.
In the latest government figures, nationally there has been an 8% rise in offences from the previous year (up to a total of 39,818 crimes).
These harrowing numbers follow a four-year national trend that has seen the number of recorded offences sky rocket.
According to the Office of National Statistics, there are 83 crimes involving blades per 100,000 population in Merseyside.
There has been a 15% increase in the number of hospital admissions in England for assaults involving a sharp object, and a 14% increase in national homicides.
We compared the total number of crimes in September over the last seven years.
Merseyside has attempted to tackle this problem with awareness schemes, such as The Knife Angel monument, however, this has been criticised for having little effect.
The founder of the GANGS programme, James Riley, who educates children to reject gang lifestyle, believes this increase in violence is caused by the desire for young people to protect themselves.
Walton-born Riley said: “Young people are seeing news stories about knife crime which fuels (them) to think ‘I need to keep myself safe’.
“They are looking for an identity; they don’t know what to do, so they are getting involved in crime.
Where there is crime, there is violence and young people are thinking ‘how am I going to keep myself safe?’
“Carrying a gun gets you five years in prison, what does carrying a knife get you?
“You don’t go to prison first time but the second time you might go to prison for 6 months.
“So, if you were going to weigh it up ‘am I going to carry a gun or a knife for protection’, you carry a knife.”
Young people are thought to be the main demographic behind (and affected by) knife crime.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that around 1 in 10 children aged 10-15 years were victims of at least one crime.
Out of 727,000 crimes, 57% were violent crimes (414,000), with the majority of these being low-level violence.
The government’s latest plans to curb knife crime also targets young people.
They aim to introduce ASBO-style orders, which will place curfews on any person 12 or over believed to be carrying a knife.
The orders will also restrict social media usage to prevent gang rivalries escalating over social media.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I will do everything in my power to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives.
It is vital we continue to focus on steering young people away from criminal activity in the first place.”
However, there are concerns these plans may criminalise young people instead of helping them.
Labour MP Sarah Jones, from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime, believes the policy is flawed.
She said: “You are taking children as young as 12 who haven’t necessarily been caught with a knife.
“The police have to think that they are carrying a knife, and a court has to think that’s probably good intelligence, but they haven’t necessarily been found doing anything illegal and then they have a criminal order against them.”