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Fatal stabbings at highest ever level

THE number of fatal stabbings is at its highest level since records began more than 70 years ago.

There were 285 people killed by knives or sharp objects in England and Wales in the year to March 2018.

That rose from 212 on the previous 12 months — reaching the highest number since the Home Office began collecting homicide data in 1946.

The previous high was in 2008, when 268 people were killed.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics also show a quarter of last year’s victims were black, the highest proportion since fatal stabbing data were first collected in 1997.

Nearly 40 per cent of deaths occurred in London, and more than 40,000 knife crimes were recorded last year.

Victim Support chief officer Diana Fawcett said the data highlighted ‘the need for all agencies to come together to tackle this crisis which is destroying lives and shattering communities’.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said police, welfare, school and mental health budget cuts were to blame. She accused ministers of trying to ‘keep people safe on the cheap’, adding: ‘They are now almost completely isolated in claiming their policies have nothing to do with this.’

But policing minister Nick Hurd said ‘urgent and unprecedented action’ taken since March had seen ‘knife crime stabilise in London and slow in the rest of the country’.

‘We recognise young people are most at risk and our serious violence strategy sets out a multi-agency approach, which includes a greater focus on early intervention,’ he added.