Knife crime has more than doubled in Bedfordshire since 2013, statistics show
Bedfordshire has seen knife crime more than double in just seven years, figures have revealed.
Bedfordshire Police recorded 648 offences involving a knife or a sharp weapon in 2019-20, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows.
That was more than double the 285 reported in 2012-13, when comparable records were first published.
There were roughly 96 knife or sharp weapon offences per 100,000 people in Bedfordshire last year – a record high, and well up from 46 per 100,000 seven years earlier.
Knife crime has risen across England and Wales in recent years, the ONS said, with a record 50,000 offences recorded by police in the year leading up to the coronavirus crisis.
Separate ONS figures show knife crime soared by 25% between July and September last year as lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity Ben Kinsella Trust, said the latest figures are "frightening".
"Tragically, knife crime has become embedded into our society, affecting generation after generation," he said.
"We are no longer simply dealing with a sudden jump in knife crime, this problem has been growing and getting worse every year.
"The Government needs to change its approach. We are beyond the point where we can arrest our way out of this problem, we must do more to tackle the root causes of knife crime.
Besides knife crime, Bedfordshire Police recorded 106 offences involving a gun in 2019-20, just one more than the 105 recorded a year earlier.
Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn said “Knife crime has risen significantly across the country since 2013, but we have made significant strides here in Bedfordshire to tackle these issues and reverse this trend in recent times and as a result, we saw a decrease in knife-related violence in the latter part of 2020.
“The force has received more than £15 million of government funding over the last three years to tackle serious youth violence, both through enforcement activity as well as funding prevention and diversion projects for young people.
“Boson, our dedicated guns and gangs team, works closely with partner agencies such as the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) to identify young people and help them turn their life around. It is important to show our young people an alternative path and break the cycle of gang violence and exploitation.
“The team also carries out regular patrols in locations identified as hotspots for drug dealing and gang activity.
“These patrols act as a deterrent and engage with young people about gang issues, but also help secure a number of results.
“This work has helped achieve some fantastic results: there was a nine per cent reduction in serious youth violence in Bedfordshire last year, which equates to around 200 fewer victims in high vulnerability communities.
“Plus, there had been no reports of firearms discharges or incidents of serious violence directly attributed to Bedfordshire’s organised crime groups or gangs between August 2020 and January 2021.
“We are doing all we can, but would always implore our communities to help us stamp out this type of criminality. You don’t have to talk to us – if you have information or concerns, speak to Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously and in confidence.
“All this information is fed into police intelligence systems and can help us get a better understanding of what is happening in our communities.”
Anyone with any information about gun, gang and knife activity or incidents of serious youth violence is asked to contact police on 101 or visit Bedfordshire Police's website.
For more information or support about getting out of a gang, please visit Beds VERU website.