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Offensive Weapons

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government plans to take to assist local communities to reduce knife crime. (220627)

[holding answer 21 July 2008]: The Government take the problem of knife crime seriously and we are using a variety of measures encompassing legislation, enforcement, education and prevention to address it.

The Home Secretary announced on 13 July tough measures to deal with those involved in knife crime through greater police enforcement, targeted action and earlier intervention and support for parents. These new measures complement the Government’s launch of the new £100 million Youth Crime Action Plan. The clampdown on knives reflects a triple-track approach of tough enforcement, intensive support and better prevention.

The Tackling Knives Action Programme is a targeted approach to addressing knife crime in specific areas: Metropolitan Police Service, West Midlands police, Greater Manchester police, Merseyside police, Lancashire police, Essex police, West Yorkshire, Thames Valley police, Nottinghamshire police and South Wales police. The programme will build upon the Tackling Gangs Action Programme that helped deliver a 50 per cent. reduction in gun injuries in hotspot areas in four areas across the country. The Government have asked Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alf Hitchcock, the ACPO lead on knives, to take on the role of head of the Tackling Knives Action Programme alongside his existing role as Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

This programme will include youth forums to encourage young people to stay on the right track in the first place; knife referral projects to ensure that people convicted of carrying a knife are confronted with the dangers of carrying knives; support for parents who are concerned about their children carrying knives by encouraging them to call parenting organisations such as ‘Parentline Plus’ to receive confidential advice; encouraging local authorities to provide Safer School Partnership officers to any school that needs one; Trading Standards prioritising test purchasing for the underage sales of knives; working with the Department of Health and local health partners to see what more we can do on knife crime in hotspot areas and supporting licensing authorities to crack down heavily on any establishment that allows underage drinking.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offences of (a) possessing a bladed article, (b) possessing an offensive weapon, (c) robbery involving the use of a knife, (d) wounding with intent involving the use of a knife, (e) causing grievous bodily harm involving the use of a knife, (f) attempted murder involving the use of a knife and (g) homicide involving use of a knife were committed per 100,000 people in each (i) London borough and (ii) police force area in England and Wales in each year since 1997. (221204)

[holding answer 22 July 2008]: Information on (a) possessing a bladed article has not previously been available centrally. From April 2008, police forces have been using a new classification for possession of article with blade or point. Figures for 2008-09 are due to be published in July 2009. The (b) possession of offensive weapons can be recorded by the police in more than one offence category, so definitive figures cannot be given. Ministry of Justice collates figures for convictions of knife possession.

Statistics on certain serious violent offences involving the use of a knife or sharp instrument have been collected since April 2007. Figures are available for 2007-08. These offences include (c) robbery, (d) wounding with intent to do GBH, (e) wounding or inflicting GBH (i.e. without intent) and (f) attempted murder. These figures are at the police force area level.

Homicide data using a knife or sharp instrument are given in the following table. Figures are shown as per million population due to the low figures reported. The latest available figures are for 2006-07. Data for 2007-08 are scheduled for publication in January 2009.

Table 1: Sharp instrument offences per 100,000 population in each police force area for selected offences for 2007-08

Police force area

Attempted murder

Wounding with intent to do GBH

Wounding or inflicting GBH

Robbery of personal property

Avon and Somerset

0.19

5.45

1.73

14.61

Bedfordshire

0.68

11.34

2.37

33.69

Cambridgeshire

0.40

2.79

2.13

6.11

Cheshire

0.10

6.40

2.60

6.50

Cleveland

0.72

13.62

3.05

10.03

Cumbria

0.40

4.03

7.05

2.02

Derbyshire

0.20

4.95

2.83

8.48

Devon and Cornwall

0.30

7.70

2.73

4.73

Dorset

0.00

2.85

1.57

1.85

Durham

0.33

8.83

1.33

2.83

Dyfed-Powys

0.60

6.16

6.16

1.19

Essex

0.36

5.33

0.60

9.22

Gloucestershire

0.17

2.59

0.69

8.81

Greater Manchester

0.78

23.49

12.33

38.61

Gwent

0.18

14.11

1.43

5.72

Hampshire

0.38

4.81

5.90

8.31

Hertfordshire

0.76

4.35

3.31

10.58

Humberside

0.22

6.08

3.76

16.24

Kent

0.61

5.75

1.96

9.05

Lancashire

0.55

9.52

3.17

8.83

Leicestershire

0.52

10.28

2.60

15.47

Lincolnshire

0.00

4.23

1.31

3.21

Merseyside

0.22

23.05

3.84

17.51

Metropolitan Police and City of London1

0.80

11.73

11.59

66.60

Norfolk

0.12

2.64

1.56

2.88

North Wales

0.15

8.29

3.70

3.85

North Yorkshire

0.13

2.68

0.51

3.57

Northamptonshire

0.45

12.40

1.49

15.09

Northumbria

0.07

10.02

4.58

7.23

Nottinghamshire

0.47

11.56

2.56

32.02

South Wales

0.00

27.14

3.75

14.43

South Yorkshire

0.46

8.59

3.33

13.61

Staffordshire

0.09

3.20

7.06

6.87

Suffolk

0.28

4.70

5.98

4.27

Surrey

0.55

2.30

1.66

3.32

Sussex

0,13

4.06

5.50

6.48

Thames Valley

0.42

2.92

1.39

8.33

Warwickshire

0.38

7.85

2.68

13.79

West Mercia

0.08

3.64

1.69

5.16

West Midlands

0.54

21.58

14.23

44.85

West Yorkshire

0.46

14.16

3.47

19.02

Wiltshire

0.94

6.77

2.68

8.18

England and Wales

0.43

9.77

5.18

21.46

1 Metropolitan and City of London have been merged. The low resident population in the City of London means that per population rates are not useful for comparison purposes.

Table 2: Sharp instrument homicides recorded by the police in England and Wales: 1997-98—2006-071, per one million population

Police force area

1997-98

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Avon and Somerset

2.0

3.4

3.4

2.0

2.6

2.7

2.7

2.7

1.3

2.0

Bedfordshire

5.5

3.6

1.8

3.6

12.4

1.8

1.8

7.0

5.2

5.1

Cambridgeshire

1.4

1.4

5.6

2

1.4

2.8

7.0

1.4

2.7

2.7

Cheshire

3.1

3.1

2

2

3.0

2.0

5.1

3.0

7.0

3.0

Cleveland

1.8

1.8

5.4

9.0

5.4

5.5

5.5

5.4

5.4

5.4

Cumbria

6.1

2.0

10.1

6.1

2.0

4.1

2.0

2.0

2

2

Derbyshire

2.1

1.0

2.1

1.0

4.1

2.1

3.1

2.0

2.0

3.1

Devon and Cornwall

5.2

3.9

0.6

3.2

3.8

1.3

1.9

6.2

3.1

3.1

Dorset

1.5

1.5

1.4

4.3

2

4.3

8.6

2

2

2.8

Durham

4.9

3.3

2

1.6

3.3

5.1

2

3.4

5.0

8.3

Dyfed-Powys

2

4.2

2

2.1

2

6.1

2

2

4.0

2.0

Essex

0.7

3.3

5.9

1.2

6.1

4.3

3.1

2

3.7

5.5

Gloucestershire

1.8

1.8

5.4

2

5.3

5.3

3.5

3.5

2

3.5

Greater Manchester

6.2

5.4

3.9

5.4

8.9

7.7

6.8

5.9

4.3

4.7

Gwent

2

1.8

1.8

3.6

3.6

3.6

2

7.2

1.8

3.6

Hampshire

0.6

1.7

2.8

2.2

3.9

5.1

1.7

3.9

2.2

3.9

Hertfordshire

2.3

1.1

5.7

3.8

2.9

3.9

3.9

4.8

2.9

5.7

Humberside

2.3

2.3

2.3

2.3

3.4

5.8

9.2

3.4

1.1

7.9

Kent

4.5

1.9

5.1

2.5

6.3

3.8

2.5

2.5

4.3

3.7

Lancashire

4.2

1.4

0.7

10.5

2.8

7.1

8.4

7.7

0.7

2.8

Leicestershire

1.1

1.1

2

4.3

2.1

4.3

9.6

3.2

3.2

5.2

Lincolnshire

2

1.6

3.2

2

1.6

3.1

3.0

2

2

4.4

Merseyside

5.6

7.8

4.3

9.3

2.1

8.8

7.3

10.3

7.3

7.3

Metropolitan Police and City of London3

8.2

6.8

8.8

9.5

9.2

9.5

8.3

8.4

7.5

9.2

Norfolk

2

6.4

2.5

5.0

1.2

2

3.7

1.2

1.2

3.6

North Wales

3.0

2

3.0

1.5

3.0

6.0

2

7.5

3.0

1.5

North Yorkshire

1.4

2

1.3

2

2

2

1.3

4.0

2.6

2

Northamptonshire

3.3

3.3

1.6

4.8

4.8

7.9

1.6

2

9.3

9.2

Northumbria

7.7

3.5

6.3

3.5

2.8

5.8

5.8

4.3

5.0

7.1

Nottinghamshire

2.9

5.8

4.8

3.9

5.8

3.0

5.9

5.8

6.8

6.7

South Wales

7.3

7.3

4.8

2.4

8.0

0.8

2.5

3.3

1.6

5.7

South Yorkshire

1.5

2.3

3.1

3.1

4.6

5.5

1.6

5.5

4.7

2.3

Staffordshire

3.8

3.8

1.9

2

0.9

2

2.9

2.9

1.9

4.7

Suffolk

2

2

2

4.4

2.9

2

3.0

2.9

4.4

2.S

Surrey

1.3

1.3

1.3

0.9

1.9

0.9

0.9

3.8

2.8

2

Sussex

2.7

2.7

3.3

3.3

3.9

6.0

2.0

6.0

2.6

1.3

Thames Valley

3.4

3.4

3.8

1.4

4.2

6.2

1.4

2.8

3.3

2.8

Warwickshire

2

4.0

2.0

2

2.0

4.0

3.9

5.8

1.9

9.4

West Mercia

2.7

2.7

0.9

2.6

4.4

1.7

4.3

2.6

2

2.5

West Midlands

1.5

6.1

5.7

3.4

7.3

6.7

8.5

8.1

8.5

5.8

West Yorkshire

5.7

5.7

3.3

3.8

5.2

6.3

3.4

6.2

5.2

4.7

Wiltshire

3.4

2

1.7

2

4.9

3.3

3.2

4.8

1.6

1.6

England and Wales

3.9

3.8

4.1

4.0

4.9

5.1

4.6

4.9

4.1

4.9

1 Homicides currently recorded by the police, as at 12 November 2007, excluding cases where all suspects were acquitted or convicted of lesser offences by that date. The England and Wales totals are as published by the Home Office in January 2008 in ‘Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2006-07’. Figures are subject to revision as cases are dealt with by the police and by the courts, or as further information becomes available. Figures for 2007-08 will be published in January 2009.

2 No sharp instrument homicides for given year.

3 Metropolitan and City of London have been merged. The low resident population in the City of London means that per population rates are not useful for comparison purposes.