LONDON, July 17 (Reuters) - Knife crime in England and Wales rose to its highest level since comparable statistics began to be gathered nine years ago, with London reporting a 28% annual rise in knife killings over the past year.
Offences involving knives or sharp instruments in England and Wales rose 6% to 46,265 in the year to March 2020, 51% higher than when comparable figures began in 2011, according to police data published on Friday by Britain's Office for National Statistics.
London, which accounted for just over a third of knife crime, saw a 7% rise in offences.
"The number of homicides involving the use of a knife or sharp instrument in London increased from 67 to 86, a 28% increase," the ONS said.
While knife crime rose, there was a 4% decrease in firearms offences and a 9% decrease in burglary across England and Wales. Data for the city of Manchester in northwest England was excluded due to problems with a new computer system in the city.
The increase in knife crime recorded by the police contrasts with a longer-term decline in violent crime measured by an ONS survey of the public, which is its lowest since that survey began in 1981 and more than 70% below its peak in 1995.
The ONS says its surveys generally give a better sense of long-term trends than police records, as they are less affected by people's reluctance to speak to the police and changes in police record-keeping.
However, police records are likely to be better for rare crimes such as murders.
ONS data on crime in England and Wales for the year ending March 2020https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2020#knife-or-sharp-instrument-offences
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by David Milliken)
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