Standard Note: Last updated: Author: Section SN/SG/4304 2 February 2011 Gavin Berman Social and General Statistics
The issue of knife related crime continues to be high on the political agenda due to a series of tragic knife related incidents. This note summarises the available statistics relating to knife crime. A Library note, Knives and offensive weapons, SN/HA/330, summarises the legislation which governs the carrying and sale of knives and other offensive weapons The Home Affairs Select Committee published Knife Crime in June 2009. This investigated levels and causes of knife crime, profiles and attitudes of offenders, and assessed effective solutions:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Summary Introduction Recorded crime British Crime Survey (BCS) Offending Crime and Justice Survey (OCJS) Proven offences and offenders Hospital admissions data 2 3 4 6 8 9 11
Standard Notes are compiled for the benefit of Members of Parliament and their personal staff. Authors are available to discuss the contents of these papers with Members and their staff but cannot advise others.
During the year to September 2011 there were approximately 32,500 recorded offences involving knives or other sharp instruments, accounting for 7% of selected offences and a similar level to the year earlier. With the exception of homicide the recorded crime statistics had not previously separately identify crimes involving knives. There were 232 homicides using a sharp instrument in 2009/10, accounting for 36% of all homicides. According to the British Crime Survey (BCS) in 2010/11 a knife was used in 6% of all BCS incidents of violence, similar to the previous year’s proportion. According to the 2006 Offending Crime and Justice Survey 3% of young people had carried a knife in the previous 12 months. Males were significantly more likely than females to have carried a knife (5% and 2% respectively). The peak age of knife carrying was 14 to 17 (7%). Over the year to the end of September 2011 there were 21,034 disposals given for possession of a knife or offensive weapon. Juveniles (aged 10-17) were the offenders in 18% of cases. The custody rate was 9% for juveniles and 25% for adults A Court of Appeal judgement in May 2008 said that magistrates should normally sentence those convicted of knife crime possession offences at the top end of the range. Following this custody rates and average custodial sentence lengths have risen. NHS data suggests there were 4,643 people admitted to English hospitals in 2010/11 due to assault by a sharp object.
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Knife crime is a persistent and worrying concern, especially as it impacts particularly upon young people and the disadvantaged, and various remedies have been tried over the years. ‘Knife Crime’ – A review of evidence and policy is a briefing paper published by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) which discusses the extent of the problem. Knives and offensive weapons, SN/HA/330 is a Library note that discusses the legislation which governs the carrying and sale of knives and other offensive weapons. To summarise: It is an offence under section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 for a person to have with him in any public place any offensive weapon without “lawful authority or reasonable excuse” The offence is punishable by up to six months' imprisonment and a £5,000 fine following conviction in the magistrates’ court, or up to four years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine following conviction in the Crown court. Section 1(4) of the 1953 Act defines "offensive weapon" as: any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use by him or by some other person.
Under section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is an offence, punishable by up to four years’ imprisonment and a fine, for a person to have with him in a...