Unsheathing the Latest Knife Crime Statistics

Craig MacKenzie
Craig MacKenzie

Published: February 19th, 2024

7 min read

The latest government statistics give an interesting insight into the continuing prevalence of knife crime in England & Wales.

The year-end figure for all knife offences shows a 2% decrease in offending, but this still represents an increase of 17% compared to a decade earlier.

'Possession of an article with a blade or point' constituted 71% of all knife and offensive weapon sentencing offences.

'Possession of an offensive weapon' offences accounted for 28% of total offences in the year ending September 2023. The number of these offences was 5,361, which represents the lowest number of 'possession of an offensive weapon' offences over the last ten years. This was a decrease compared to both the previous year (7% decrease) and the year ending September 2013 (20% decrease).

'Threatening with a knife or offensive weapon' offences accounted for 1% of total offences in the latest year. The number of 'threatening with a knife or offensive weapon' offences has seen a decrease of 66% compared to the previous year but an increase of 59% since the offence was introduced in the year ending September 2013.

Offenders receiving an immediate custodial sentence dropped by 1.7% points, which may well reflect the current crisis in our prisons, with judges told to avoid custody if at all possible. In total, some 31% of offenders received an immediate custodial sentence. Notwithstanding this average year's fall, compared to a decade ago, there is a 2.3% increase in the use of immediate custody as a sentencing disposal.

The average sentence length is currently 7.8 months, up from 7.5 months a year earlier. By way of comparison, in 2017, the average sentence length was 7.2 months.

92% of all repeat offenders pleaded guilty. This is a 14% increase compared to the year ending September 2022 and a 7% increase since the year ending September 2017.

The proportion of repeat offenders who pleaded guilty and received immediate custody in the year ending September 2023 was 61%. The number of repeat offenders who pleaded guilty and received immediate custody increased by 7% over the last year and decreased by 5% since the year ending September 2017.

First-time knife offenders represented 69% of the offenders charged. This is at its lowest figure in a decade. Over the latest year, a total of 4,400 repeat possession occasions were sentenced under Section 315 of the Sentencing Act 2020, with 4,127 repeat adult possession occasions and 273 repeat 16 to 17-year-old possession occasions.

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