Rise in Hertfordshire knife crime reflects national trend
- Credit: Archant
Sentences for crimes involving a knife or offensive weapon in Hertfordshire have been rising over the past five years, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Justice.
This rise is broadly in line with the national trend of steadily increasing knife crime since 2014.
A long-term look at county-wide sentences for knife crime shows that these offences declined steadily for six years from the year ending June 2009, when 750 people were sentenced, to the year ending June 2014, when 415 people were sentenced.
From July 2014 to June 2019 the number of sentences passed for these crimes rose back to their 2009/10 levels - where related sentences reached 708 in 2017, 539 in 2016 and 650 in 2019.
Reflecting on the figures, Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: "I recognised that knife crime and serious violence is of great concern to residents.
"There have been rises here and nationally, but Hertfordshire remains a very safe place to live. It has risen from a very low number to a low number."
The nationwide trend in increasing knife crime from 2014 onwards could be linked to the national rules on police 'stop-and-search' powers introduced that year by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May. Under those rules police powers to carry out stop-and-search operations were limited.
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In March 2019, those guidelines were relaxed by Sajid Javid as a response to the increasing trend in rising knife crime, in a move welcomed by the police.
Mr Lloyd said: "I am fully supportive of the police stop-and-search powers and targeted operations. A rise in sentencing shows those carrying knives and bladed articles are being caught and put before the courts."
In addition to welcoming changes to the stop-and-search powers nationally, the police commissioner has allocated additional local funding to tackling knife crime in schools.
He added: "This year I have increased funding to extend a pilot project across the whole county. A grant of £280,000 will pay for more youth project workers to identify those at risk.
"The newly formed Children and Young Persons Gangs and Schools Team, based in Stevenage, is also being expanded to cover the whole county."
Herts police have published advice and information to help prevent knife and gun crime - see herts.police.uk/Information-and-services/Advice/Firearms-and-shotguns/Knife-and-gun-crime