Worrying increase in Lancashire's child knife criminals
Almost one in six people convicted or cautioned in Lancashire for knife crimes are children.
Charity the JAN Trust says more funding for youth projects is vital to help vulnerable children, particularly those who have been excluded from school.
The latest Ministry of Justice data shows Lancashire Police took action against 77 children for either carrying a knife as a weapon or threatening someone with one, in the 12 months ending September 2018. Of those, 11 had at least one previous knife crime offence.
Including adults, Lancashire Police took action against 482 people in the 12 months to September, 43 more than three years earlier. That means 16 per cent of knife offences were committed by children.
The figure has increased since 2014-15, when 68 children were convicted or cautioned over knife crimes. In Lancashire, 70 children were convicted or cautioned for carrying a sharp object, while eight used the blade to threaten someone. There were 34 knife criminals aged between 10 and 15 in 2017-18, while 43 were 16 or 17 years old.
Sajda Mughal, chief executive of the JAN Trust, said work with families is vital to make them aware of the problem and help them support their children. She said: “A growing number of young people are carrying knives, are members of gangs and have the mind-set that they have no choice but to carry a knife.
“We need to prioritise increased funding for vital support services and youth projects to address the kind of alienation and exclusion that many young people face. It is also crucial to fund and support work with families, especially mothers, to make them aware of this issue and how they can support their young people.”
Across England and Wales, there were more than 4,000 children convicted or cautioned for knife offences in the 12 months to September — an increase of 31 per cent over the past three years.
In Lancashire, 81 per cent of the children were white and Ms Mughal said racial profiling of offenders is not helpful. She added: “There needs to be an increase in more specialised and proficient policing, as opposed to the distrust formed between communities from racial profiling.”
The Prime Minister and Home Secretary have both spoken out on knife crime recently, after a spate of fatal stabbings across the country. Police forces have asked for emergency funds to deal with the surge in offences.