Hundreds of criminals were sentenced or cautioned for knife and offensive weapon crimes in Lancashire last year.
Across England and Wales as a whole, offences hit a decade-long high, with knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust saying more must be done to stop people being drawn into knife crime.
New Ministry of Justice figures show that at least 509 knife and offensive weapon crimes resulted in a caution or sentence in Lancashire in 2019, down from 573 in the previous year.
But according to the MoJ, the real figure could be higher as there can be delays updating police records for recent offences. The figure stood at 680 in 2009, the earliest period for which data was available.
The figure includes possession of, or threatening with, a knife or other offensive weapon. The data also shows that offenders in Lancashire were sent straight to prison on 175 occasions last year.
An estimated 22,300 knife and offensive weapon crimes were handled by the criminal justice system across England and Wales last year – a 10-year high. And an estimated 8,383 of them resulted in immediate custody – the highest number since records began in 2009. The average time an offender spends in prison has also crept up over the last four years – to eight months.
“These statistics show that while we are bringing more offenders before the courts, we are doing little to tackle the root causes of knife crime,” said Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust.
“Even though offenders are receiving slightly longer sentences, this does not appear to be a deterrent, as the number of habitual offenders continues to increase. These offenders are clearly stuck in a spiral of violent crime. We must do more to stop young people from getting drawn into violence and knife crime.
“Therefore we must balance our approach to not just focus on justice but to include prevention and early intervention programs.”
The figures come after politicians and charity campaigners called for urgent, major investment in youth services to prevent youngsters being drawn into knife crime.
In March’s Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised £5 million to the Youth Endowment Fund to help tackle violence involving young people.
At the beginning of the year, the Prime Minister ordered all Whitehall departments to take action on tackling crime.
Boris Johnson told ministers every department should consider itself a criminal justice department as part of a drive to look at the “complex causes of crime”, which would involve long-term reforms to improve health, social care, youth services and education.
Justice minister Chris Philp said: “This government is doing everything in its power to make our streets safer and protect communities from the devastating effects of knife crime.
“We are recruiting 20,000 more police officers, making it easier to use stop and search and ensuring the most violent offenders spend longer behind bars.”