'Cocktail' of problems to blame for record high in UK knife crime

A protest against knife crime in London earlier this year (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto)

A “cocktail” of societal problems has fuelled knife crime in England and Wales, one expert claimed as it was revealed that offences had surged to a record high.

Cuts in police funding, youth work and the rise in the number of drug gangs is helping the current surge in stabbings, said Patrick Green, CEO of the charity Ben Kinsella Trust.

He was speaking after it was revealed that knife crime in England and Wales surged to a record high of more than 43,500 in one year, according to new statistics released on Thursday.

Forensics teams work at the scene of a stabbing in Edmonton, north London earlier this year (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

That represents an increase of 8%, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, and does not include figures from Greater Manchester Police, one of the UK’s biggest forces.

It is the highest since 2011, when comparable records began.

“It’s a real cocktail of lots of things,” Green told Yahoo News.

“London and the metropolitan cities have abundant drugs markets which entices young people into that type of life and knife crime is part and parcel of that work.

“Cuts in youth work and the number of police have been cut dramatically, it’s not single issue.”

He also pointed at “reactive” announcements from politicians of all parties and called for “long-term” policies.

At the same time, crime levels have generally remained steady, although theft increased by 13%, although estimates of theft remain much lower than 20 years ago.

Police-recorded homicides involving a knife or sharp instrument. (PA Graphics)

The latest figures on knife crime came as London mayor Sadiq Khan called fatal stabbings “a human cost of austerity”.

He called on the two candidates vying to be Prime Minister - Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, who was his predecessor in London’s top job - to increase funding to combat knife crime.

Actress Brooke Kinsella, sister of murdered teenager Ben Kinsella, who the charity is named after (REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

There have been at least 33 fatal stabbings in London this year, following a spike last year of 135.

The figures also showed that less than eight per cent of all crimes generally are solved.

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