West Midlands has highest rates of knife crime in country after it increased by almost half, figures show

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data revealed that West Midlands Police recorded 4,445 offences involving a blade in the year up to March 31.

This was up from the 3,049 offences recorded the previous year – and represents a major increase of 46 per cent, the highest in England and Wales.

It meant a figure of 152 offences per 100,000 population with Cleveland close behind with 139, followed by Greater Manchester and the City of London forces.

Meanwhile the number of knife and sharp instrument offences saw an increase of 10 per cent as it increased from 44,642 to 49,027 in England and Wales.

The overall crime rate increased by 16 per cent to 5,445,806 over both countries, with West Midlands Police recording 361,649 crimes in the region.

This represented a 34 per cent rise on 269,988 the year before, with the percentage increase second only to City of London Police which saw a 56 per cent rise – although it recorded substantially less crimes with 5,931 over the period.

Police chiefs say the data is somewhat skewed due to the comparison period of April 2020 to March 2021 coinciding with Covid-19 restrictions and a fall in crime.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said: “We have now reached a point where we are comparing this year’s statistics with a year when there were numerous national Covid-19 lockdowns. That skews the statistics because many crimes reduced dramatically whilst we all stayed at home.

“That’s why it is more useful to compare 2019/20 with 2021/22. When we do this we can see that robbery, burglary, shoplifting and theft from a motor vehicle are all down.

“However, other crimes such as violence, car theft and sex offences are up. For anyone affected, that is devastating and it is unacceptable. These statistics show, in black and white, why the Government must, as a matter of urgency, return our 1,000 missing officers that have been cut and not replaced since 2010, so we can do more to keep the people of the West Midlands safe and secure.”

Meanwhile firearm offences – not including air weapons – also increased to 86 from 82, a rise of five per cent compared to the year before. Possession of weapons offences increased to 6,138, a rise of 71 per cent.

Criminal damage and arson was up 101 per cent to 29,753. Stalking and harassment was up 34 per cent to 59,220. Sex offences were up 37 per cent to 11,401, robbery was up by 23 per cent to 7,995, theft was up by 29 per cent to 96,183 and burglary was up by 11 per cent to 20,199.

Other crimes such as vehicle offences were up by 28 per cent to 32,643, whilst criminal damage and arson was up 101 per cent to 29,753. It should be noted the data for the region for between January 2021 to March 2022 are “provisional” due to a move to a new IT system.

Meanwhile, Staffordshire Police’s overall recorded crime increased by five per cent to 70,759 from 67,510. Knife crime and sharp instrument offences increased by 15 per cent from 603 to 692.

Firearm offences, not including air weapons, fell by eight per cent from 50 to 46. Stalking remained stable at 13,169 and violence against the person increased by six per cent to 10,627.

Sex offences increased by 33 per cent to 3,210, robbery increased by 18 per cent to 675, theft offences increased by four per cent to 18,734, burglary was up by one per cent to 3,255 and vehicle thefts increased by two per cent to 3,989.

Meanwhile criminal damage and arson fell by five per cent to 7,775 and possession of weapons offences increased by one per cent to 537.

Express & Star Walsall