16 of 25 Knife Crime Hot Spots are in London: BBC

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BBC analysis has revealed that London has 16 of the top 25 knife crime hot spots in England and Wales.

The data from 34 of the 43 police forces include crimes of assault, robbery, sexual offences, the threat to kill, attempted murder, or murder committed with a blade. The report comes as the capital looks set to see the murder rate surpass that of last year, which was already a decade-high level.

Analysis in May by the London Assembly’s Conservatives claimed since Labour’s Sadiq Khan became mayor in 2016, the city has seen knife crime rise by 52 per cent. Mayor Khan has come under criticism for diverting funds on non-essential services, including spending £1.7 million on an online hate crime hub and £34 million on green projects.

Last year, it was revealed that London’s Metropolitan Police Service is dropping investigations into minor, ‘non-serious’ crimes while a separate report revealed the force was abandoning around one-third of all crime reports after a single phone call without investigation.

While the BBC’s analysis revealed that London remains the most dangerous region for knife attacks, the rate of serious knife crime in other areas is outstripping some London boroughs. Those listed include Manchester, Slough, Liverpool, and Blackpool. Other non-London regions listed in the top-25 are Nottingham, Birmingham, and Oldham.

A number of reports have raised the increase in County Lines as a factor in growing knife crime. County Lines are drug-trafficking networks based in metropolitan areas where dealers groom teens into transporting and selling drugs to customers in the suburbs. While the young dealers often cross county boundaries, the crime network is named for the dedicated mobile phone “deal lines” used to take orders from drug users.

Ashley Hackett, chief executive of Blackpool Football Club Community Trust, told the BBC: “There is a significant issue with county lines [drugs courier] gangs in Blackpool, and from that we are seeing that means a lot of young people are carrying knives.”

Media reports that most of the lines originate in London, with The Guardian noting some London lines linked to high-profile cases stretch to as far as Wiltshire, Norwich, and even Wales. Other lines originate in cities like Liverpool, Birmingham, and Manchester.

In January, the National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed that County Lines in London had nearly tripled in one year, and was fueling the rise of crime in the capital.

The BBC report also revealed that knife crime has risen by 81 per cent across England and Wales since 2014, while prosecutions have fallen 20 per cent. Statistics from June showed that knife crime in England and Wales had risen to a nine-year high. The number of fatal stabbings has surged to its highest level since records began in 1946.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference last week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cited the rise of County Lines drug gangs for rising crime in the United Kingdom, but also hit out at middle-class drug users who were fuelling their trade.

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