Knife crime: The Government's plans for deterrence, the statistics and the Court's approach to sentencing

14th June 2019 Criminal Defence

It will come as no surprise to anybody to hear that knife crime has been on the increase for a number of years. The upward trend has long been identified and a number of Home Office deterrence projects have been deployed.

For example, in 2018, in an effort to reduce knife crime, The Home Office launched a marketing campaign tagetting one of the most highly affected age groups, 10 to 21-year-olds. To best reach the intended audience, social media and digital TV channels were the platforms of choice. In addition, the worst affected English cities subject to widespread poster advertising.

The Home Office has now further focused the educational aspect of knife deterrence by implementing special lessons in secondary schools to pupils aged 11 to 16. These will take place in the immediate future, and before the lengthy summer, school holidays begin.

The ONS (Office for National Statistics) reported that in the 12 months ending in March 2018, the highest number of homicides carried out in England and Wales (by some distance) was by knife (or sharp instrument). There were 285 knife killings, which is a figure is markedly higher than the total combined number of gun, assault, drug and motor vehicles homicides.

London is far from the worst area impacted by the most serious of knife crimes, contrary to the belief that the rising levels of knife crime in Great Britain is largely confined to the Capital and its surrounding populace. In fact, of the top 10 cities worst affected by knife crime, only two featured, in 7th and 10th places. The number of Islington knife homicides was 11.2 homicides per 100,000 people. The other city appearing in the top 10 was Newham, with 10.7 homicides per 100,000 people.

In fact, the top five worst affected cities for killings were:


14 (killings per 100,000 people)



Metropolitan Borough of Manchester






Knife crime is a nationwide problem, and without a doubt, the Courts are adopting a much harder approach to knife conviction sentencing.

The Ministry of Justice statistics shows that there were 21,101 knife cases recorded in England and Wales in the year ending June 2018. Of those convicted, 36% faced custodial sentences. This is a marked increase, from 2009, in which only 23% of knife convictions resulted in jail terms.

The average length of a prison sentence has also risen markedly over the last 10 years, from less than five months to well over eight months.

It is therefore, imperative that individuals arrested for knife crimes seek the best legal advice available at the earliest possible stage. If you are facing knife charges, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0345 872 6666.

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Peter Grogan is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchester in our Business Crime, Regulation & Driving Offences department

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