Police have recorded another surge in violent offences including murder, manslaughter and stabbings as the number of police officers and detection rate plunged to a record low. Police-recorded offences involving knives or sharp instruments rose by 16% to 40,147 in England and Wales, according to figures for the year to March published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The total number of homicides – murder and manslaughter – rose by 12% from the previous year to 701, excluding exceptional incidents with multiple victims such as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. Gun crime rose but at a less pronounced rate than knife crime, up 2% to 6,492 offences in the period.

Sarah Jones, the Labour MP and founder and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on knife crime, said: “It’s official, knife crime is at the highest level on record. The proportion of murders involving a knife has jumped from 30 to 40%, and across the country young people are living with fear and trauma. Today’s figures confirm that this is a public health emergency. “The argument is being made by politicians of all sides, by campaigners, youth workers, and other frontline professionals,” she said. “We don’t need more reviews from the government, we need concrete action. We need a dedicated unit in government to work across departments to cure the growing epidemic of violence in our communities.”

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