Violent crime in England and Wales has shot up by 24 per cent. In the 12 months to June, murder was up 20 per cent, knife crime 9 per cent, and gun crime surged by 7 per cent, according to police recorded crime figures.
Overall, the headline count based on the Crime Survey for England and Wales, issued by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), estimated there were 6.4 million incidents of crime, down slightly from the previous year’s 6.5 million.
The figures also show the number of reported rapes and sexual offences rose by 14 per cent. Unlike knife and gun crime, however, this is likely down to the increased media focus and better reporting resources.
The rise in homicides, meanwhile, is largely down to the fact that the 96 cases of manslaughter, which resulted from events in Hillsborough in 1989, were included in the figures for the first time.
The ONS played down the figures generally in their bulletin, saying the rises are “thought to largely reflect factors other than a rise in actual levels of violence” – factors such as the inclusion of 2 harassment offences in a new category.
John Flatley from the ONS acknowledged that “there has been a small but genuine increase in some categories of violent crime” – such as knife and gun crime.
He added, however, that, “we think the rise in the police figures is due to a combination of factors. First, the expansion of the police series to cover new harassment offences.
“Second, a greater proportion of incidents reported to the police being recorded as crimes. At the same time, the Crime Survey has shown a greater proportion of victims of violent crime reporting to the police.”
He also said: “Violent crime covers a wide spectrum from minor assaults, harassment and abuse that result in no physical harm to the victim through to incidents of wounding and murder.
“The latest figures present a complex picture, with the crime survey for England and Wales estimating similar levels of violent crime to that seen in recent years, but the number of offences recorded by the police increasing.”