Scale of the issue

Serious Youth Violence (SYV) is now regarded as a public health issue in Britain. While it is not a new phenomenon, over the last five years the numbers of lives lost to it, has created real disquiet in various communities (especially Black communities), and led to numerous calls for government and the police to do more to address this matter.

But what is the scale of the issue? We have provided data which provides greater detail about this issue.

Knife crime figures for England and Wales:

There were 39,818 knife crime offences in the 12 months ending September 2018.

This is a two-thirds increase from the low-point in the year ending March 2014, when there were 23,945 offences, and is the highest number since comparable data was compiled. (These statistics do not include those from Greater Manchester.)[i] Out of the 44 police forces, 42 recorded a rise in knife crime since 2011.

Hospital admissions for knife assaults (admissions for assault by a sharp object, England)

Data for NHS hospitals in England in the 12 months ending September 2018 showed an 8% increase in admissions for assault by a sharp object.

Doctors said the injuries they were treating were becoming more severe and the victims were getting younger, with increasing numbers of girls involved.

What crimes are knives used for?

Percentage (%) of knife crime by offence type for England and Wales, year ending September 2018.

Of the 39,818 knife crime offences, about half, 19,761, were assaults that caused an injury or where there was an intent to cause serious harm.

8,556 involved robberies.

Knife crime victims

81% of all victims are male

20% of victims are 15-19

53% of knife crime victims are BAME

38% of knife crime victims are white

Many of the victims could also be perpetrators

Knife crime offenders

73% of all offenders are BAME

17% of all offenders are 20-24

41% of all offenders are 15-19

Homicides committed by knives (England and Wales)

The number of knife-related homicides went from 272 in 2007 to 186 in 2015.

It has gone up every year since 2015. In 2017-18 there were 285 killings, the highest figure since 1946.

One in four victims were men aged 18-24. The figures also show 25% of victims were black – the highest proportion since data was first collected in 1997.


In 2018, 135 murders took place in London, the highest number for a decade.  52 of these were young victims of knife crime. So far this year there have been 22 murders in London, eight of whom were young victims of knife crime, as of February 2019.

Violent incidents (England and Wales, year ending March 2018)

Most violence is caused by people hitting, kicking, shoving or slapping someone, sometimes during a fight and often when they’re drunk; the police figures on violence also include crimes of harassment and stalking.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales, which includes offences that are not reported to police, indicates that overall levels of violence have fallen by about a quarter since 2013.

However, the police-recorded statistics have indicated that the most serious violent crime is increasing.

Knife possession offences by age (England and Wales, year ending September 2018)

In the year to September 2018, 21,381 people were cautioned, reprimanded or convicted for carrying a knife in England and Wales, most of whom were adults.

But one in five – 4,459 – was under the age of 18, the highest number for eight years.

Regional variation in knife crime offences (England and Wales, year ending March 2018)

For every 100,000 people in London, there were 168 knife offences in 2017-18, with separate figures, from the London Mayor’s Office, showing that young black and minority ethnic teenage boys and men were disproportionately affected, as both victims and perpetrators.

Next highest was the West Midlands, with 72 knife offences per 100,000 population, and Yorkshire and the Humber, 79. According to the Office of National Statistics Knife crime is rising fastest in Kent and West Yorkshire, in London for example knife crime has risen by 11% in the past 8 years, in Kent and West Yorkshire it has doubled. 39 out of the 44 police forces who submitted statistics showed an increase of some kind in knife crime since 2011. Some of the rise in knife crime outside of large metropolitan cities has been attributed to the rise in County Lines trafficking.

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