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Two in three knife robberies unsolved as police ‘stretched’

TWO-THIRDS of knifepoint robberies in England and Wales go unsolved each year, figures show.

Thousands of investigations ended with no suspect identified, according to data obtained by the Press Association under freedom of information laws.

Around three in ten incidents of violence against the person involving a knife also went unsolved, as did one in six of possession of a bladed weapon.

Police said a national shortage of detectives had led to ‘huge gaps in investigation teams’ across all 43 forces.

Among 22 forces which provided data, a total of 12,783 robberies involving a knife or bladed weapon were recorded in 2017, 15,588 in 2018, and 3,540 up to March this year.

In 2017, a total of 8,837 investigations ended with no suspect identified (69 per cent of the total recorded); for 2018, 10,456 ended with no suspect identified (67 per cent); and for the first part of 2019, 1,739 ended with no suspect identified (49 per cent of the total).

Che Donald, national vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: ‘While the number of unsolved knifepoint robberies and other knife crimes appears to be slightly decreasing year on year, there is no denying that the numbers are uncomfortably high.

‘Combined with an eight per cent overall increase in knife crime across England and Wales, what is blatantly apparent is that our over-stretched and under-funded police forces are battling an explosion in violent crime which shows no sign of abating.’

Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said: ‘It is deplorable that nearly two-thirds of criminals who use knives to commit robberies are not put in front of the courts.’