Big increase in number of people caught with knives and guns in Preston

Number of people caught with knives and guns in Preston has doubled
Number of people caught with knives and guns in Preston has doubled
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The number of people caught with guns and knives in Preston has more than doubled, according to the latest police recorded crime statistics.

There were 113 weapons possession offences between July 2017 and June 2018, according to data by the Office for National Statistics. These can include hand guns, knives and even corrosive acid.

That figure is up 109 per cent on 2016-17, when 54 incidents were recorded.

The statistics are based on crimes reported to the police, and the ONS urges caution in interpreting some of these figures.

Some offences go unreported while others may be more numerous due to a change in the focus of the police or greater public attention.

However the ONS said that recorded crime figures are reliable for lower volume offences, such as possession of a knife or a gun.

The rise was reflected nationally. Across England and Wales there was a nine per cent increase in offences with knives or sharp objects, leading to the highest number of incidents since March 2011, when comparable records started.

The number of recorded homicides - murders and manslaughters - also rose, by 14 per cent, reflecting an "upward trend" since 2014. These figures excluded people who died in terror attacks.

Joe Traynor, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: "Over recent decades, we've seen continued falls in overall levels of crime but in the last year the trend has been more stable.

"We saw rises in some types of theft and in some lower-volume but higher-harm types of violence."

Overall, police recorded crime in Preston increased significantly between July 2017 and June 2018.

Over the 12 month, period 18,444 crimes were recorded, up by 29 per cent on 2016-17.

That means there is a crime for at least one in every 10 residents in Preston, well above average for England and Wales.

There were 1,203 residential burglaries reported in Preston. Due to a change in how the ONS categorises burglaries, the localised figure cannot be compared with other years.

There have been three homicides, which are murders or manslaughters. There were four cases of death or injury by dangerous driving.

Theft, one of the most high volume crimes, increased by 10 per cent. Drugs related offences rose by 24 per cent.

READ MORE: Machine gun among more than 100 weapons handed in during Lancashire Police amnesty
Commenting on the national figures, Chief Constable Bill Skelly, of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "Rising crime is placing greater demand on policing, as forces strive to reduce crime as well as respond to a growing terrorist threat.

"There are also more calls from the public for help, including responding to people in crisis when other agencies lack their own capacity."

Mr Skelly said the gap in numbers between reported crimes and criminals being charged is a "real concern for us".

"The upcoming spending review is a crucial opportunity for the Government and police leaders to come to a consensus about police demand, our capabilities to meet it and the funding required," he added.

Criminal damage in Preston, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone up, from 2,473 incidents in 2016-17, to 2,601 in the latest figures.

While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, this could just be due to improved police recording as opposed to an increase in incidents.

Similarly sexual crime statistics are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to a series of high profile cases.

In Preston there were 545 incidents recorded between July 2017 and June 2018, a 61 per cent rise on the previous year, when 339 crimes were reported.

There were also 1,356 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales, commented: "It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict these shocking increases because they only reflect what we have been telling the Government for years – we need more boots on the ground."

Labour described the ONS statistics as "truly shocking" and accused the Tories of "failing in their duty to protect the public and keep our citizens safe".

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: "These figures are a tragic indictment of this Tory government's policies."

Policing Minister Nick Hurd said: "This Government is determined to tackle all types of crime - and although the chance of being a victim remains low, we are taking decisive action in a number of areas.

The Government announced a £200 million Youth Endowment Fund to support "young people at risk of involvement in crime".

Mr Hurd added: "On top of this, we are consulting on a public health approach to serious violence and giving police extra powers to tackle knife crime through our Offensive Weapons Bill."