The 2024 UK Peace Index found that reported knife crime rates in England and Wales are now over a fifth higher than they were a decade ago. While the rate isn’t evenly distributed, all but five Police Force Areas, or PFAs, have experienced an increase in this type of crime since 2012.  

Geographic Distribution

On average, there are now 72 reported knife crime incidents per 100,000 people in England and Wales. In 2012, knife crime was concentrated in a few urban areas, with high incidences particularly in London and the West Midlands. By 2022, knife crime has not only intensified but also become more widespread across the country. Areas that previously had lower rates of reported knife crime, especially in Northern and Southeastern England, now exhibit significantly higher rates. Knife crime in PFAs such as West Yorkshire, Merseyside, and Cleveland exceed 100 reported offences per 100,000 people, nearly double the offences recorded in 2012. This escalating trend indicates that knife crime is no longer just confined to major cities, highlighting the need for comprehensive national strategies.

Types of Knife Crime

The surge in reported knife and sharp object-related violence is evident across the crime landscape in England and Wales. Assaults involving knives have risen by 69 per cent over the last decade, reaching over 22,000 reported offences in 2022. While robberies involving knives have fallen slightly during this period, they still make up a substantial portion of overall knife-related offences, with over 15,000 reported offences in 2022 alone. Additionally, reported sexual offenses involving a knife have more than tripled over the past decade.

Offender Profile

Youths aged 10 to 17 have consistently represented the highest proportion of offenders detained for weapons offenses over the last decade. While adult custody rates have remained steady since 2012, youth custody rates have risen by almost six per cent, reaching 60 detentions per 100,000 youths in 2022. This rate is nearly double the adult rate of 32 detentions per 100,000 adults recorded in the same year.  

Although both rates are lower than their peak in the middle of the decade, it is important to note that these are custodial rates. This implies that there could be many more offenders who were not detained or whose offenses were not reported. With nearly half of young people expressing concern about knife crime in their local area, and both the Conservative and Labour parties pledging to address violent crime in their 2024 election campaigns, it is evident that knife crime is a major issue impacting safety and security in the UK.

Download the United Kingdom Peace Index 2024 Briefing here.


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Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.