09:13, December 14 85 0 theguardian.com

2017-12-14 09:13:04
Number of children penalised for knife possession rises 16%

The number of 10- to 17-year-olds cautioned or sentenced for knife possession offences has risen by 16% since this time last year, with 2017 set to be one of the worst years in the last four decades for child knife deaths.

Ministry of Justice figures showed there were 4,439 knife crimes where the perpetrator was aged from 10 to 17 in the year to September 2017, up from 3,811 the year before.

The figures will increase concern about rising violence against children. The Guardian has been tracking the number of children and teens killed by knives in 2017, after discovering no national data was available.

Last month, the Home Office and 45 police forces published figures showing 35 children and teenagers had been killed in knife crimes in England and Wales so far this year, meaning 2017 is likely to be the worst year for such deaths in nearly a decade and the third worst year since 1977.

Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on knife crime, said: “Today’s figures show knife possession offences continue to grow at a worrying rate. Offences have now reached a six-year high and this is reflected by the fact that 2017 is set to be one of the worst years for the last four decades for child knife deaths.

“I continue to press the government to treat knife crime as a public health crisis and invest across government in prevention programmes.”

Jones has previously said Britain needs a 10-year, coordinated strategy to tackle knife crime among young people, similar to the successful long-term effort to reduce teenage pregnancy. She believes professionals from health, education and social media sectors should work together against knife crime, with a focus on social media platforms taking more responsibility for posts that glamorise knives and violence.

Javed Khan, the chief executive of the children’s charity Barnardo’s, said the statistics made “sombre reading” and called on MPs to investigate the root causes of knife crime, with particular focus on prevention and early intervention.

Khan said: “From Barnardo’s work with the most vulnerable children and young people, we know that the reason they get involved in knife crime or gangs can be complex, but action to help stem the increase is vital.”

The MoJ figures showed that among adults, there were 16,059 cautions or sentences for knife possession offences in the year ending September 2017, up from 15,239 the previous year. Among the offenders aged from 10 to 17, 582 were immediately taken into custody, up from 485 last year.

Other recently released figures have also showed rising crime levels. There has been a 13% increase in police recorded crime in England and Wales and a 20% rise in “violence against the person” in the year to June 2017.