A knife attack every 4 minutes; 130,000 per year – but ministers still insist crime rates are falling
More than 350 people are the victim of knife assaults every day in England and Wales, the latest crime figures have revealed.
Last night a teenager in Lambeth, London, became the latest victim of the stabbing epidemic, dying in hospital after a frenzied attack.
Almost 130,000 attacks involved knives last year – equivalent to one every four minutes – according to the annual British Crime Survey.
This figure does not include the tens of thousands of assaults against under-16s. However, unlike the police records published yesterday, it does include crimes which are not reported to the authorities.
The police data revealed 22,000 serious knife assaults – including 231 attempted murders – were reported to the police last year.
There were also almost 14,000 reported robberies and more than 8,000 woundings.
As the Daily Mail revealed exclusively yesterday, the forces’ data, which was gathered for the first time this year, starkly illustrated how knife crime has spread beyond the major cities into the shires.
The British Crime Survey figure of 130,000 knife attacks is substantially higher than the police’s figure. This is thought to be because many victims never report being threatened with a knife – and even assaults needing hospital treatment go unrecorded.
The phenomenon of ‘hidden’ knife crime has led senior doctors to call for new rules making it compulsory for hospitals to record knife injuries.
The British Crime Survey, based on interviews with thousands of households across the UK, showed overall crime down 10 per cent to 10.1million offences.
Police figures, which typically capture only around half of all crime, showed a similar trend.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve pointed out that the police figures showed violent crime up nearly 80 per cent since Labour came to power. The BCS trends were more positive.
Doctors’ kitchen knives ban call
A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.
A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase – and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.
They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.
The research is published in the British Medical Journal.
The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.
They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.
None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.
The researchers said a short pointed knife may cause a substantial superficial wound if used in an assault – but is unlikely to penetrate to inner organs.
Kitchen knives can inflict appalling wounds
In contrast, a pointed long blade pierces the body like “cutting into a ripe melon”.
The use of knives is particularly worrying amongst adolescents, say the researchers, reporting that 24% of 16-year-olds have been shown to carry weapons, primarily knives.
The study found links between easy access to domestic knives and violent assault are long established.