It’s a worrying fact that knife crime has, over the last few years, been on an undeniable rise. With an increasing number of violent attacks happening across the UK, and a pressing need to put more robust action into place, understanding knife crime and its root causes is essential.
There’s nowhere that’s more apparent than in our public education system, where there’s an overhanging atmosphere of uncertainty and fear surrounding the safety of our pupils. As one of the UK’s leading providers of security services, that’s something we understand above all else, and something we’re actively working to change.
That all begins with learning and understanding where we’re at now, and what needs to change to facilitate larger-scale adjustments to the state of knife crime in the UK. We’ll break down all the key statistics from the latest House of Commons report, how they’ve evolved in recent years, and what the next steps are for addressing the knife crime epidemic.
In the interests of providing an objective and fair overview of all the relevant statistics on knife crime in the UK, we’ll be using official sources from the ONS, as well as pertinent independent sources to provide the information you need.
As one of the most prevalent crimes across the country, knife crime has seen consistently high figures over the last few years. Over 2022, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) recorded a total of 49,072 crimes that involved a knife or sharp instrument.
That’s an increase of almost 10% (9.82% exactly) over the figures we saw in 2021, and illustrates a few worrying trends. The most concerning among these is that we’re starting to see a return to the rampant figures of knife crime we saw pre-pandemic, with figures for 2019 clocking in at approximately 51,900 offences.
Equally alarming is how much knife crime has increased in the last 10 years. A combination of factors (ranging from global recession and political instability, to struggling police enforcement and poverty figures) have led to an increase of 46% over the figures for 2012.
Looking at the whole of the UK region-by-region, we find that the West Midlands faces the most issues with knife crime, with 152 instances of knife crime recorded per 100,0000 people over 2022. By contrast, Dyfed-Powys in Wales saw just 32 instances per 100,000 residents for that same time period.
The figures for 2022 also have a concerning trend in terms of homicide. Of the 594 murders that happened over the course of the year, 261 of these were committed using knives or other sharp objects (such as broken bottles), accounting for around 40% of all homicides for 2022.
Possession of these weapons paints a similarly grim picture. Over the course of the year, there were 19,555 cautions and convictions made for the possession of knives or other offensive weaponry. While this in no way indicates an intent to use the weapon in a violent manner, it does serve to draw attention to the prevalence of knives in society.
Worryingly, young people (those aged between 10 and 17) were the offenders in 18% of those cases, which prompts increased concern for security in schools, as well as for the state of youth violence as a whole.
There’s been an inexorable rise in the amount of knife crime over the last 10 years, and much of that is happening in schools and educational establishments between young people. According to the Ben Kinsella Trust, there’s been 99 murders among under 25s, with 13 of those being under the age of 16.
Looking more closely, the ONS reports that there were 51 homicides where the victim was aged between 13 and 19, all of which prompt concern for the safety and security of our schools. Arguably more concerning is how much of an increase this is when compared to figures for previous years.
The rate of homicide with a sharp instrument among 13 to 19 year olds is the highest it’s been on record, with 16 more homicides compared to 2021, and 6 more when compared to the highest levels we saw pre-pandemic.
The largest increase was specifically among teenage boys, between the ages of 16 and 17, where the number of murders rose astronomically from 10 in 2021 to 24 in 2022. In fact, across all school ages, there were rising statistics in the last year, seeing a return to similar or higher numbers to those we saw prior to 2020.
Expanding upon these statistics, we find that, of the 19,555 convictions for the possession of a knife or offensive weapon, 18% of these were young people aged between 10 and 17, equating to approximately 3520 convictions.
While their findings haven’t yet been published fully, and in no way correlate to the crime statistics we’ve examined already conservative estimates from the CSEW found that around 6.5% of 10 – 15 year olds interviewed knew someone who carried a knife.
Similar statistics were found across the 16 – 29 year old age group, wherein 5.7% of those surveyed knew of someone who carried a knife or offensive weapon. Unsurprisingly perhaps, under 1% of respondents admitted to carrying their own knife.
It’s statistics like these that prompt us to look more closely at what’s happening in our schools, as well as what might motivate a young person to carry an offensive weapon.
The Ben Kinsella Trust draws connections between the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sharp increase in knife crime among young people. Their research points towards the pandemic making younger people more vulnerable, and therefore more susceptible to exploitation by gangs, as well as a lack of security in communal spaces.
In an interview with The Independent earlier this year, Chief Executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust Patrick Green posited that the lack of stability and certainty that the pandemic caused is a key factor in the increase in knife violence, as well as the decision to carry a knife to feel safer or more secure.
Both the more tangible impacts of rising gang violence (especially so in inner city areas) and the mental health impacts of the pandemic have undoubtedly both had a profound effect on knife and violent crimes across the UK.
But what does the future hold for violent crime among young people? Let’s look at the data, and what’s in motion to help curb the rising numbers across crimes.
It’s difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the future. As much as we’ve seen a distinct rise in the prominence of knife crime, there’s measures that are being put into place to help turn the tides.
It begins with tougher sentencing and sanctions for those who are caught in possession of a knife, or that have committed a crime that involves a knife. That’s something that’s already started to have a profound effect.
Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that, while the number of offenders who received cautions for their knife offences has fallen, the number that were reprimanded in custody has risen substantially.
That’s been on the rise since before 2010, and the average custodial sentence has seen a similar trajectory which has now started to plateau. Both of these factors combined show just how much of a crackdown there is on knife-related crime, but there’s naturally more that still needs to be done.
Government legislation, such as Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs), also sets out to reinforce the severity of knife crime through tougher punishments for those who commit the crimes. However, with those in mind, it’s equally important to view the opposite side of that – prevention.
That’s something that London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has consistently emphasised across his mayoral tenure. His stance has remained consistent – further and more robust funding for prevention and support programmes across the capital, as well as additional investment into policing and neighbourhood outreach.
As one of the UK’s most densely populated areas, London naturally has its issues with knife crime. However, it’s initiatives like these that have a notable impact – the latest reports show that the rate of knife crime with injury in the capital has dropped by 4% during Khan’s mayoralty.
The way forward seems clear, then. Through continued, effective investment into youth projects, and consistent focus on addressing the root causes of the issues, all areas UK-wide can see similar dips to those observed in the capital.
In the interim, however, investment in school security solutions is absolutely imperative for ensuring the safety and protection of your students.
Security in schools has long been a key consideration for those in leadership or facilities positions, and it’s especially important in mitigating the risk of knife crime in your educational establishment. It offers ultimate peace of mind to pupils, parents and staff members alike, and offers the reassurance that you take the growing threat of knife crime seriously.
Let’s break down the key ways you can best secure your school premises, including ways you might never have considered.
The bread and butter of the security industry, school security guards can operate in either a static position (such as monitoring access points for your premises, or stationed in open areas) or as mobile guards who can patrol your school grounds.
With a bespoke school security solution from Churchill Support Services, we’ll work alongside you and your premises to ensure that you’ve got comprehensive coverage. Whether you need patrols across car parks, or on reception duties as your students enter or leave, there’s a tailormade solution available for you.
Our expertly trained guards are fully SIA-licensed, and have complete training in conflict management and resolution, as well as the ability to manage crowds and ensure the safe and secure defusal of any potentially volatile situations.
With their tailored skillset, your school security guards can deal with any situations in a professional, level-headed and above all calm manner, helping maintain a sense of peace and tranquillity even when times are difficult.
Not only that, but you’ll also be able to completely tailor your security guards’ uniform to ensure that they not only help protect your premises, but that they look the part, too.
Another staple of the security industry, CCTV offers both a visible deterrent to any possible criminals, as well as an excellent supplement to the on-site security guards at your school. Churchill have always been at the cutting edge of technology, and there’s nowhere that’s more apparent than in the security cameras we can offer.
We offer fully monitored CCTV solutions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and can ensure the safety and security of your school throughout both the academic and calendar year. This, coupled with our expertly trained security guards, ensures that you’re fully covered with a comprehensive suite of equipment.
Our constantly manned Communications Centre is able to provide support to your security personnel, and offer guidance and support at any time of the day or night. Plus with an installation process that aims to minimise disruption and work around term times, CCTV for schools is a clear choice for the safety and security of your students.
In order to combat increasing knife crime in the community and in schools, some places are now using ‘knife arches’ and wands to detect any concealed weapons. These are essential if you’re working in an area that’s more at risk, or has experienced knife crime or gang activity recently.
Before entering the school grounds, each student must pass through a metal detector, which will alert staff to the presence of any knives. Our experienced guards are fully trained in access control and can ensure that all pupils entering the school grounds have been through the proper checks and are not carrying a weapon, ensuring that no knives are brought into the school.
Our SIA-licensed security officers can also assist with stop and searches or bag searches, according to the school’s security policy, and ensure that no contraband items or weapons are brought onto site.