Knife crime in Bedfordshire more than doubles in seven years
Ben Kinsella Trust says surging knife crime rates are no longer confined to major cities
Knife crime in the county has more than doubled in just seven years, figures reveal.
And anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust has warned surging knife crime rates are no longer confined to major cities across England and Wales, and that "every village, town and city" should be aware of the scale of the crisis.
Bedfordshire Police recorded 648 offences involving a knife or a sharp weapon in 2019-20, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows.
That was more than double the 285 reported in 2012-13, when comparable records were first published.
There were roughly 96 knife or sharp weapon offences per 100,000 people in Bedfordshire last year – a record high, and well up from 46 per 100,000 seven years earlier.
Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn said: “Knife crime has risen significantly across the country since 2013, but we have made significant strides here in Bedfordshire to tackle these issues and reverse this trend in recent times and as a result, we saw a decrease in knife-related violence in the latter part of 2020.
“The force has received more than £15 million of government funding over the last three years to tackle serious youth violence, both through enforcement activity as well as funding prevention and diversion projects for young people.
“Boson, our dedicated guns and gangs team, works closely with partner agencies such as the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) to identify young people and help them turn their life around.
“The team also carries out regular patrols in locations identified as hotspots for drug dealing and gang activity.
“This work has helped achieve some fantastic results: there was a nine per cent reduction in serious youth violence in Bedfordshire last year, which equates to around 200 fewer victims in high vulnerability communities.
“Plus, there had been no reports of firearms discharges or incidents of serious violence directly attributed to Bedfordshire’s organised crime groups or gangs between August 2020 and January 2021."
Knife crime has also risen across England and Wales in recent years, the ONS said, with a record 50,000 offences recorded by police in the year leading up to the coronavirus crisis.
The ONS said despite improved crime recording methods, increases are likely to reflect a real rise in the number of knife and sharp weapon offences nationally.
Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust, said the latest figures are "frightening".
"Tragically, knife crime has become embedded into our society, affecting generation after generation," he added.
"We are no longer simply dealing with a sudden jump in knife crime, this problem has been growing and getting worse every year.
"The Government needs to change its approach. We are beyond the point where we can arrest our way out of this problem, we must do more to tackle the root causes of knife crime."
The latest data also reveals the number of gun crimes recorded by police forces in England and Wales.
Bedfordshire Police recorded 106 offences involving a gun in 2019-20, one more than the 105 recorded a year earlier.
The figures include offences where a firearm has been fired, used as a blunt instrument or as a threat, but exclude any involving air weapons.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Too many young lives are being needlessly lost. We are working closely with the police and others to stop this senseless bloodshed, particularly as Covid restrictions are eased over coming months.
"We are making sure the police have the resources and support they need, including bolstering their ranks with 20,000 new officers."