New figures have revealed that 2023 saw a drop in knife crime across Stevenage and North Hertfordshire.

Herts police data from November 1, 2020, up until October 31, 2023, showed that the number of offences has declined over the three-year and in the last 12 months.

Stevenage knife crime offences dropped from 66 in 2022, to 49 in 2023, a decrease of almost 26 per cent, while North Herts saw 36 per cent drop from 44 to 28.

98 offences were recorded in Stevenage in 2021, seeing a drop of 50 per cent down to 2023's figures, while North Herts saw a 53 per cent decrease over the same period.

In total, there were 221 offences in Stevenage, and 143 in North Herts.

"There has been a decrease in crimes involving knives in the county during 2023, however possession offences rose by around four percent since April 2023, in comparison with the previous 12-month period," said Superintendent Owen Pyle, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operational Strategy Team.

"During the pandemic at a time when the demand on policing fell due to the restrictions in place, this may well have led to officers having more time to be proactive and carry out stop searches.

"The lack of people moving around public spaces is also likely to have made the activities of those carrying knives or engaged in criminal activities more apparent to officers.     

"Knife crime continues to be one of the constabulary’s priorities and we have been working with our partners in local government, schools, charities and other agencies around the county to update and progress Hertfordshire’s multi-agency Serious Violence Strategy.

"There has been a lot of work and research into understanding the issues that are driving predominantly young people into taking the decision to carry a knife, and to form a proactive problem solving approach that tackles these issues.

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"We are working with our strategic partners and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office to formalise the government’s Serious Violence Duty, which will enable even closer working to tackle serious violence including new funding over the next two years for diversionary and preventative projects.

"We’re currently running a number of initiatives in schools around the county working with several charities, visiting schools and giving talks to students.

"We have also set up a dedicated Children and Young Persons team to develop engagement projects to encourage young people to make positive choices through the #LivesnotKnives campaign, a countywide initiative aimed at encouraging young people to engage positive activities.

"We are also taking part in the regular national knife amnesties, Operation Sceptre, and carrying out proactive enforcement activities, including hotspot patrols, deploying knife arches and detection wands, carrying out weapon sweeps in public areas and test purchasing operations at knife retailers.

"Through the Serious Violence Strategy we have been focussing on preventing these things happening at a much earlier stage, by ensuring that our young people are given the information, guidance and support they need to prevent them from being sucked into these kinds of crimes."