GB sees 61% rise in child knife crime

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Thousands of children were found by police to have been carrying knives in England and Wales last year as the number of under 18s caught with blades rose for the fourth consecutive year.

An estimated 4,290 10 to 17-year-olds received either a caution or sentence for knife possession in the year ending June 2017.

The Ministry of Justice figure represented a 61% increase in those dealt with over the same period in 2013.

There are 36 different areas of the country where at least one child of nine or younger has needed hospital treatment for an “assault with a sharp object” – including nine in London, four in Yorkshire and four in the North-East of England.

Between 2012/13 and 2016/17, more than 18,000 people were admitted to hospital with injuries of this nature in English hospitals – over 3,300 of which were children and young people aged 19 and under, almost one in five cases.

Nationally, London has by far the worst problem for young people of 19 and under being attacked in this way – there were 1,446 victims aged 10 to 19, around 30% of the 4,869 cases recorded.

Scottish police figures obtained by Johnston Press shows 80 children had knives on school premises, and 19 others used them in “other criminal activity” between April and December last year.

Ministers yesterday faced demands for extra funding to reverse swingeing cuts in youth and education services as senior MPs and campaigners responded to the four-month Johnston Press investigation which revealed a 42 per cent increase in the last two academic years in the number of children caught bringing a knife or bladed weapons into schools.

Damian Hinds, the new education secretary, faced questions tabled in Parliament about what measures he will take in response to the JP investigation, which found that offences reported to police involving knives in schools include three allegations of rape as well as incidents of malicious wounding and racially-aggravated assault.

Sarah Jones, chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime, has submitted written questions to Mr Hinds asking whether he will review safeguarding guidance for children in schools in the light of JP’s findings.

Ms Jones said she wanted to know from Mr Hinds “what steps his department is taking in response to figures showing increasing knife offences occurring on school premises”.

Writing in the i paper, Mr Khan today praises the investigation and puts forward cuts in police numbers as a key contributory factor in the rise in violent crime, describing the issue of stabbings as “a national problem that requires national solutions”.

The London Mayor, who has faced Tory criticism over a rise in knife crime in London, said: “The police and local government cannot solve the problem alone. This a national problem that requires national solutions.

“The Government must take responsibility and play its part by urgently restoring funding for the services that provide alternate paths away from crime, such as youth services, as well as for our police forces.”

Ministers insist they are providing schools with the powers and resources required to provide a “safe space” for pupils, including the increased use of searches and knife arches.

But there is a growing divide between many education professionals and the authorities over the effectiveness of such interventions with one leading union saying they threaten to “turn schools into prisons”.

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