Knife crime reaches new five-year high in Suffolk and Essex
PUBLISHED: 17:26 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:02 15 September 2017
Some young people see knives as being "part of their uniform", police admit, after the latest figures showed a fresh five-year high in the crime.
The number of offenders cautioned or sentenced after being caught with knives in Suffolk and Essex has hit the highest level for five years.
Ministry of Justice statistics show there were 183 knife possession cases in Suffolk where offenders were dealt with by the criminal justice system in the 12-month period to June 2017.
This was the highest since 2012, when the figure was 192, but lower than when the figures were first recorded in 2009 (266).
In Essex, the number of knife possession offences resulting in a caution or sentence in the 12 months to June 2017 stood at 490. It was also the highest since 2012 (564), but lower than 866 in 2009.
The findings come amid concern about a surge in knife violence in both counties.
In Suffolk, concerns are growing over London gangs and drug-related offences.
Suffolk Constabulary has stepped up action to act on rising knife crime, carrying out weapon sweeps and intelligence-led raids.
Seven people have lost their lives in stabbings since December.
Nationally, police say youths are increasingly keeping blades on them for reasons including “status” and self-protection. Campaigners warn youngsters are becoming increasingly desensitised to knife crime.
Chief Inspector Simon Mills, of Suffolk Constabulary, has previously said: “Knife crime can have devastating consequences and if you are found illegally in possession of a knife you will be arrested, could be put before the court and brought to justice.”
Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: “We need to do all we can through education, peer pressure, policing and sentencing to make it absolutely clear that it’s never acceptable to carry a knife.”
Essex Police said their figures were skewed by international arrests at Stansted Airport.
A force spokesman said: “We know that violent crime involving knives has gone up. We know that London drugs gangs have expanded their activities into places like Essex and have brought with them into the county more violence and knives being used as normal.
“We’d agree that there are groups of young people who see knives as part of their “uniform”. Our view is that carrying a knife, whatever your intentions, massively increases your risk of coming to harm.
“Knife crime in Essex still shocks communities and we don’t recognise a desensitisation but some young people living lifestyles that bring them into contact with gang activity will be familiar with peers carrying knives.
“Our activities on knife crime include putting knife amnesty bins in key areas and towns, intelligence led operations to stop and search people at risk of carrying knives and visiting schools and colleges to educate young people about the risks of carrying a knife.”