Knife crime in England and Wales rose by nearly a quarter last year — and critics say that a drop in stop-and-frisk tactics is to blame.
Local police recorded 39,598 offenses involving a knife or sharp instrument in 2017 — a 22 percent increase from 32,468 the previous year — according to data from the Office for National Statistics obtained by Sky News.
The data also revealed an 11 percent increase in firearms offenses, with 6,604 such crimes recorded last year.
Murders in the region also rose by 9 percent across England and Wales — a total of 653, according to the report.
In London, specifically, murders rose by 44 percent — from 109 to 157 — in the financial year from April 2017 to March 2018, according to data released by the Metropolitan Police Thursday.
The data, obtained by Sky News, includes victims of the terror attacks in Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.
The alarming statistics have led some to rethink Prime Minister Theresa May’s 2014 reforms urging police to scale back on “stop-and-search” tactics, The Telegraph reported.
Under the new rules, police only have the power to stop and search if they have “reasonable” grounds to suspect someone is carrying a weapon, illegal drugs, stolen property or anything that could be used to commit a crime, according to the report.
Between 2016 and 2017, there were 303,845 stop-and-searches in England and Wales — a 21 percent drop compared to the previous 12 months, The Telegraph reported.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — who served as London mayor from 2008 to 2016 — is pushing for an increase of stop-and-search tactics.
“We did two things simultaneously and this is what [current London mayor] Sadiq Khan needs to do,” he told The Telegraph last week. “You cannot be soft on this.”
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“You have got to stop them, you have got to search them and you have got to take the knives out of their possession.”
He also said that police need to “come down like a ton of bricks” on gang leaders.
Violent crime overall has continued to skyrocket in London this year — with the city reporting more murders in February and March than in New York City, according to a report early this month.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said that nationwide action is necessary.
“These statistics show once again that crime, and violent crime in particular, is rising at an unacceptably high rate across the whole of England and Wales, including London,” Khan said in a statement obtained by the Telegraph. “This is clearly a national problem that requires national solutions from the Government.”