Knife crime in England and Wales is rising, even if you exclude London

26 May 2024
What was claimed

If you took London out of the equation, knife crime figures in England and Wales “would be down”.

Our verdict

The latest data shows knife crime is up even if you exclude London. In the year ending December 2023 knife crime in England and Wales rose 7%—excluding London, it rose 2.5%. However older data for the year to September 2023 showed knife crime rose across England and Wales but fell excluding London.

In an interview on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg [12:40] programme this weekend, the home secretary James Cleverly was asked about figures showing a 7% increase in knife crime in the year to December 2023. In response, he claimed: “If you took Labour-run London out of the equation, that figure would be down.” 

The 7% figure comes from Office for National Statistics data on police recorded crime statistics for the year ending December 2023. However, the data actually shows that, when London is excluded, knife crime still increased—albeit at a lesser rate—in the rest of England and Wales. 

In the year ending December 2022, there were 46,153 recorded offences in England and Wales involving a knife or sharp instrument, including 12,145 in London. Over the same period in 2023, there were 49,489 recorded knife offences across England and Wales, including 14,626 in London. 

This represents a 7% increase overall (as stated on the programme) and a 2.5% increase in offences recorded by forces outside London.

It’s worth noting these figures exclude Greater Manchester Police and Devon and Cornwall Police, both of which experienced issues providing data during this period.

Mr Cleverly’s claim about the figure being “down” seems to have been intended to refer to the increase being lower when London is excluded, rather than an actual decrease in the number of knife offences recorded by police forces outside of London. 

A Conservative spokesperson told Full Fact: “These figures confirm that the overwhelming increase in knife crime has been in Sadiq Khan’s London, driving up the national average."

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What does the previous set of data show? 

Mr Cleverly went on to claim: “On that time frame it [knife crime] is up 22% in Labour-run London.” 

This 22% figure matches the increase in knife crime seen in the year ending September 2023, rather than the year ending December 2023 (when there was a 20% increase in offences in London). 

Looking at this previous September dataset knife crime did fall in the rest of England and Wales, excluding London. 

In the year ending September 2022, there were 46,367 knife or sharp instrument offences in England and Wales, including 11,469 in London. Over the following 12 months, there were 48,716 offences in England and Wales, including 14,000 in London. This represents a 5% increase in total offences in England and Wales, and a 0.5% decrease when London is excluded.

Politicians should use official statistics accurately and with all relevant context and caveats, and quickly rectify oversights when they occur. 

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Image courtesy of Chris McAndrew

Update 28 May 2024

We’ve updated this article to include a response from the Conservative party.

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