Hospitals in England and Wales treated 11 stabbing victims each day last year

An anti-knife crime charity has sounded a warning over the easing of lockdown restrictions after figures showed stab victims accounted for more than 4,000 admissions to hospitals in England and Wales last year.

The Ben Kinsella Trust said the Government must take steps to prevent another rise in attacks as restrictions are relaxed, with the NHS Digital data showing a marked rise in admissions during months when greater social mixing was permitted.

The figures show there were 4,100 hospital admissions following an assault with a sharp object in 2020 – equivalent to 11 admissions for each day of the year.

Almost a quarter of admissions were in London.

The overall number of hospital admissions was down from 4,800 the year before, but the Ben Kinsella Trust said the drop was largely achieved because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Chief executive Patrick Green said: “While any drop in knife crime is clearly a good thing, there is an ominous warning contained in these figures.

“As the country unlocked in July, blade attacks soared.”

In August, hospitals in England and Wales dealt with 543 admissions for assault with a sharp object – the highest monthly figure since comparable records began in 2012.

Admissions between July and September last year were 62% higher than those between April and June – when the country was under the strictest coronavirus regulations.

Office for National Statistics figures showed knife crime rose by 25% between these periods, with 12,120 offences across England and Wales.

Mr Green added: “As we emerge from lockdown three and restrictions are eased, the Government, local authorities and police must take steps to ensure that we do not see a similar surge in knife attacks as we witnessed last summer.

“This includes helping youth services to get up and running as soon as possible.

“It is imperative that young people have access to positive activities to keep them away from those who want to exploit them for criminal gain.”

The NHS figures also showed that around 40% of all hospital admissions for stab wounds across England were victims under the age of 25.

In August, 211 young people needed hospital treatment – also the highest monthly figure on record.

Charity Stand Against Violence said people become involved in violent crime for many different reasons, including desperation, fear and status.

Dave Urwin, community funding and development officer at the organisation, said multi-agency collaboration is needed to prevent another rise in knife crime this summer.

He added: “Sufficient funding and support needs to be given to those who are working to prevent violence and everyone needs to be aware how pressing an issue this is.”

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said the Government is investing millions into tackling the causes of violent crime, supporting “vital” youth projects and working with local partners to protect young people at risk.

“Too many young lives are being needlessly lost,” he said.

“We are working closely with the police and others to stop this senseless bloodshed, particularly as Covid restrictions are eased over coming months.”

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