06:08, March 14 266 0 theguardian.com

2019-03-14 06:08:06
Knife and weapon offences reach highest level since 2009

The criminal justice system dealt with the highest number of knife and offensive weapon offences in nearly a decade last year, official figures have shown.

In 2018, 21,484 knife and offensive weapon offences were recorded, the highest number dealt with since 2009, when 25,103 offences were registered, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The figures come after the chancellor, Philip Hammond, handed out an extra £100m to police forces in England and Wales after a spate of fatal stabbings saw renewed focus on the response to knife crime and fresh debate over police resources.

Total funding for forces in England and Wales fell by 19% in real terms from 2010-11 to 2018-19, according to the National Audit Office. Officer numbers have dropped by nearly 20,000 since 2010.

Elsewhere, the figures show that offenders are now more likely to receive an immediate custodial sentence for a knife and offensive weapon offence.

In 2018, 37% of knife and offensive weapon offences ended in an immediate custodial sentence compared with 20% in 2008.

The average length of the custodial sentences received also increased over the same period, from 5.3 months to 8.1 months.

For 72% of offenders it was their first knife or offensive weapon possession offence, a proportion that has been decreasing and is now at its lowest level since the series began in 2008, when it was 80%.