The Office for National Statistics published figures this morning on crime in England and Wales in the year ending March 2021, which show that there was a 15% decrease in knife-enabled crime recorded by the police (44,286 offences) compared with the previous year.
Michelle Lee-Izu, Corporate Director, Barnardo’s said: “Although these figures appear low compared with recent peaks, we must remember that this includes the second wave of pandemic restrictions.
“When the restrictions were eased last summer, knife crime offences rocketed 25% between July and September, and there is a very real risk of a similar eruption in the coming weeks, with the lifting of restrictions and the school holidays.
“After 16 months of children spending more time online, isolated and away from the view of trusted professionals – we could see violence and vulnerability amongst young people reaching a new peak this summer.
“Barnardo’s is extremely concerned about a potential rise in exploitation by criminal gangs which often target the most vulnerable children and have used lockdown to develop new recruitment methods on social media. We know that in many cases, young people carry knives believing it’s necessary to protect themselves, and, during a period of great uncertainty, our fear is that other young people are finding it hard to believe in a positive future and see no alternative but to turn to a dangerous way of making money.
“We urgently need a cross-Government approach to addressing the root causes of serious youth violence, which must include sustainable multi-year funding for youth services.”