Crime figures show (yet) another rise in knife crime

Knife crime shows a further 7% increase with a big increase (17%) in the West Midlands

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Crime rate unchanged overall

Last week’s crime figures which cover the year ending September 2019 confirms recent trends with overall levels of crime broadly stable over recent years with variations between different types of crime.

The latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) show continued rises in overall fraud, with a 9% increase in the year ending September 2019, driven by a rise in “bank and credit account fraud”. All other main crime types measured by the CSEW showed no change, including lower-harm violent offences (for example, violence without injury and assault with minor injury).

Police recorded crime data give more insight into the lower-volume but higher-harm violence that the survey either does not cover or does not capture well.

For the year ending September 2019 in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester Police because of issues with their data supply following the implementation of new IT systems) these data show:

  • a 6% decrease in the overall number of homicides following a period of increases
  • no percentage change in the number of police recorded offences involving firearms
  • a 7% increase in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments

Many of these lower-volume, higher-harm types of violence tend to be concentrated in metropolitan areas such as London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

Knife crime

Figures for the year ending September 2019 showed a 7% rise in offences involving knives or sharp instruments recorded by the police (to 44,771 offences). This is 46% higher than when comparable recording began (year ending March 2011) and the highest on record.

Figures for offences involving knives or sharp instruments continue to exclude Greater Manchester Police as recent improvements to address previous undercounting of these offences mean their data are not comparable with earlier figures.

The change in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments in the latest year varied by police force. For example, looking at the three areas with the highest rate per 100,000 population:

  • London saw little change with a 2% increase (compared with a 7% rise in the previous year)
  • West Yorkshire saw a decrease of 8%
  • West Midlands saw an increase of 17%

Other crime trends

Police recorded crime data can give reliable indications of trends in some offences involving theft. For example, domestic burglary and theft of a vehicle are less likely to be affected by the impact of recording improvements, as they are relatively well-reported to (and subsequently recorded by) the police.

Police recorded vehicle offences increased by 4% (to 441,351) in the year ending September 2019, continuing the rising trend seen over the last three years. The latest rise compares with an increase of 3% in the year ending September 2018 but is lower than seen in previous years.

Rises in police recorded robbery offences were evident for the fourth consecutive year, with an increase of 12% (to 82,542 offences) in the year ending September 2019 compared with the previous year. While recording improvements are likely to have contributed to the rise, some of the increase is likely to reflect a real change. Robbery is an acquisitive crime involving violence or the threat of violence that is more likely to be reported by the victim and recorded by the police than some other theft offences.

Figures for the year ending September 2019 show that the number of burglary offences recorded by the police decreased by 4% (to 380,567 offences). This is a larger decrease than the 1% decrease for the year ending September 2018. This contrasts with rises in police recorded burglary offences seen in recent years.

So, overall it appears that burglary is down but robbery and vehicle offences are up.

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