West Mercia and Mid Wales knife crime hits record high
Knife crime in West Mercia and Mid Wales hit a record high in the last year, according to official figures.
West Mercia Police reported a rise of almost 18 per cent over the last year – while an increase of more than 44 per cent was recorded by Dyfed-Powys Police.
West Mercia Police recorded 534 offences involving knives or sharp instruments in the year to March 2019, the highest number since comparable records began in 2010-11.
Office for National Statistics figures showed it had risen from 453 in 2017/18.
Over the last 12 months, crimes associated with knife offences in West Mercia included 14 attempted murders, 19 rapes or sexual assaults, 287 assaults and 128 robberies.
Dyfed-Powys Police recorded 229 offences involving knives in 2018-19, up from 158 in 2017/18.
Last year's figures related to one murder, 157 assaults, 48 threats to kill and 16 robberies, among other crimes.
Overall crime went up three per cent in the West Mercia Police force area, with a 10 per cent rise in crimes of violence against a person; stalking and harassment crimes had increased 33 per cent and robbery by 15 per cent.
There was a six per cent drop in burglary, a four per cent decline in drug offences and criminal damage and arson offences fell by three per cent.
A total of 86,782 crimes were recorded by West Mercia Police in 2018-19.
West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion moved to reassure the public, saying the region remains a comparatively safe place but issues such as violence and knife crime need more attention.
He said: "West Mercia is not immune to the challenges facing both society and policing at a national level.
"We are seeing some excellent progress in tackling problems such as burglary, but clearly issues such as violence and knife crime need more attention and effective remedies nationwide, from agencies beyond just the police.
"While West Mercia remains a comparatively safe place, these figures show why I have invested to add a further 215 officers to our local force, who will all be in post before the end of this year.”
West Mercia Police's Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans said: "While we understand that our communities will be concerned to learn that some crime areas have seen percentage increases, the statistics released today show that West Mercia Police compared favourably to most other forces.
"They have also highlighted that residential and commercial burglaries have seen decreases greater than the national average, and criminal damage has also fallen, while many other crime areas also compare favourably to the national picture.
"We know the impact that any crime can have on those who experience it, and we constantly seek to improve our performance and find new and better ways to deliver our service to the community and prevent people becoming a victim of crime."
He said that it is a challenging time for police officers and staff but he was proud of their professionalism, dedication and commitment.
He added: "I can assure our communities that we are working closely with partners to tackle those areas where we have seen an increase while continuing to maintain a momentum and focus on those areas where we have seen some reductions. We are committed to making our communities as safe as we possibly can.
"As a force, we have invested in training around recording crime which has seen our officers have a heightened understanding, particularly when it comes to recording lower level violent crime.
"National changes to the way we record crimes of stalking, harassment and malicious communications has meant that we have seen an increase in this area in part, because we now record stalking and harassment crimes separately and in addition to malicious communications crime.
"We are also working proactively with partners to raise awareness around knife crime and have increased our proactive work to tackle organised crime and County Lines networks in the area, which will have contributed to the rise in some of those areas highlighted such as possession of weapons."
Dyfed-Powys Police recorded 27,915 total crimes last year, an eight per cent rise from the previous year.
The force reported an 18 per cent rise in crimes of violence against a person, a 38 per cent increase in stalking and harassment offences and there was a 44 per cent rise in weapon possession crimes.
There was a seven per cent drop in sexual offences and burglary offences fell eight per cent.
Knife crime in England and Wales also hit a record high in 2018/19, up eight per cent on the previous year.
Police recorded 43,516 offences involving knives or sharp objects in the year to March 2019, the highest since comparable records began in 2011.
There was a rise of 3,301 knife crime offences from 2017/18, with the volume of offences up 42 per cent since the year ending March 2011.
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "It's unacceptable that the knife crime crisis continues unabated with offences at record levels.
"Children are not born with knives in their hands, knife crime is a symptom of a much bigger problem.
"Our frontline support services say vulnerable children and young people are being recruited and exploited by criminal gangs and forced to traffic drugs and carry knives.
"Urgent action must be taken so that future generations are not condemned to live in an endless spiral of violence."
Total police-recorded crime, excluding fraud and computer misuse, stood at 5.26 million offences in 2018/19 – up from 4.88 million in 2017/18.
The total number of violence against the person offences rose by 20 per cent year-on-year to 1.67 million, while robbery offences rose by 11 per cent, to a total of 85,736.
Mark Bangs, from the ONS centre for crime and justice, said: "The picture of crime is a complex one. Overall levels of crime have remained steady, but this is not the case for all types of crime.
"For example, overall levels of violence have remained steady but we have seen increases in violent crimes involving knives and sharp instruments.
"We have seen increases in fraud and overall theft, but decreases in burglary following recent rises."