Warnings over rise in homicide and violent crime

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Rank-and-file police officers have called for “more boots on the ground” as figures reveal a 14 per cent rise in homicides - the highest number since 2008.

Official data from police forces in England and Wales shows violent crimes are up by 19 per cent in the year to September 2018.

Offences involving a knife rose by eight per cent, while hospital admissions for assaults involving a sharp implement increased by 15 per cent in England.

It comes amid a seven per cent year-on-year rise in overall crime, with a total of 5,723,182 offences recorded - the highest number in a 12-month period since the year ending March 2004, when there were 6.01 million.

The figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday show there were 90 more homicides recorded by the police in the year to September 2018 - excluding victims of large-scale incidents such as terror attacks - with the total number up from 649 in 2017 to 739.

It is the highest number in a 12-month period since the year to March 2008, when 775 homicides were recorded, although in the year to September 2008 there were 714.

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) said the figures portrayed “a country in the grip of a terrifying spiral of violence as an embattled police service struggles to cope”.

Its National Chairman John Apter said: “Society just isn’t as safe as it once was, and although the police service is doing everything within its power, we are swimming against the tide and it is the public who are being let down.”

The figures show that excluding fraud, crime was up nine per cent in Yorkshire and Humber.

Homicides were up 17 per cent, violence against the person rose 26 per cent and stalking and harassment was up by 53 per cent in the region.

North Yorkshire Police said the force area remained the safest place in England, despite a 13 per cent increase in crime, because of improvements in crime recording were behind the increase.

Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain said: “As ever, we sincerely thank our officers, Special Constables, PCSOs, police staff, volunteers and our partner agencies for keeping our communities safe.” South Yorkshire Police said knife crime was down by 12 per cent after officers worked with schools to help young people understand the dangers of carrying blades.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “There has been a more sophisticated approach, helping young people to get away from involvement with drugs and gangs, but also targeting known offenders and increasing stop and search.”

In West Yorkshire violence against the person offences were up 30 per cent and sexual offences increased by 16 per cent.

West Yorkshire Police Temporary Chief Constable John Robins said: “Recorded crime levels across metropolitan areas throughout the country are increasing and the latest crime statistics show a rise in crime of 12 per cent in West Yorkshire.

“However our analysis again shows that around half of this increase is as a result of improved crime recording practices and an increased confidence by the public to report crimes.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “These statistics show that your chance of being a victim of crime remains low, but we recognise that certain crimes - particularly violent crime - have increased, and we are taking action to address this.”