New official data has revealed that knife crime in England and Wales hit a record high before strict lockdown measures were introduced – up six percent on the previous year, with fatal stabbings in London up by over a quarter.

A report published on Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that in the year to March 2020, there were over 46,000 knife offences – the most since records began. Overall crime has dropped in recent months, but police warn offences are on the rise again with the relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown measures.

In pre-lockdown London, fatal stabbings rose by a staggering 28 percent – with all homicides leaping from 115 to 142 over a 12-month period.

Knife crime in the UK’s capital has become a hot topic for Mayor Sadiq Khan to navigate. Critics have suggested that he’s not doing enough to combat the epidemic, but the report revealed that other metropolitan areas in the West Midlands and West Yorkshire have seen notable rises in stabbing fatalities. More than a third of murders in England and Wales involved a knife.

The authors of the ONS research say that there has been a “rising trend” in offences involving knives or sharp instruments since 2011.

The latest year was 51 per cent higher than when comparable recording began in 2011 and is the highest on record.

Nearly half of all knife offences recorded involved robberies. Homicides have risen by 683, which includes the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants who died while being trafficked in the back of a refrigerated truck. The bodies were discovered in the container at a business park near London in October.

Labour’s shadow policing minister, Sarah Jones, responded to the report by warning that despite the lockdown prompting a fall in crime, “none of the issues that drive violence on our streets have been addressed.”

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