Here's how many times Hertfordshire hospitals treated stabbing victims last year

The Ben Kinsella Trust anti-knife crime charity said the Government must take steps to prevent another rise in attacks across the country

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 5:37 pm

Stab victims accounted for up to 80 admissions to hospitals in Hertfordshire last year, figures suggest.

The Ben Kinsella Trust anti-knife crime charity said the Government must take steps to prevent another rise in attacks across the country as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

NHS Digital suppresses small numbers to protect victims' identities, but data shows there were between 20 and 80 hospital admissions in Hertfordshire following an assault with a sharp object in 2020.

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This was compared to between 21 and 87 the year before.

Across England and Wales, there were 4,100 hospital admissions after attacks involving a sharp object last year, down from 4,800 in 2019.

However, the Ben Kinsella Trust said the drop last year was largely achieved because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Chief executive Patrick Green said: "While any drop in knife crime is clearly a good thing, there is an ominous warning contained in these figures.

"As the country unlocked in July, blade attacks soared."

In August, hospitals in England and Wales dealt with 543 admissions for assault with a sharp object – the highest monthly figure since comparable records began in 2012.

Admissions increased by 62% between April and June – when the country was under the strictest coronavirus regulations – and July and September last year.

Office for National Statistics figures show knife crime rose by 25% between these periods, with 12,120 offences across England and Wales.

Mr Green added: "As we emerge from lockdown three and restrictions are eased, the Government, local authorities and police must take steps to ensure that we do not see a similar surge in knife attacks as we witnessed last summer.

"This includes helping youth services to get up and running as soon as possible.

"It is imperative that young people have access to positive activities to keep them away from those who want to exploit them for criminal gain."

The NHS figures also showed that around 40% of all hospital admissions across England were victims aged under 25.

In Hertfordshire, no fewer than 11 admissions were for under-25s, while 56 were for those older.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “Crimes involving knives have been increasing across the country for some time and we have seen increases in these types of crimes in Hertfordshire as well.

“Whilst crime in general has reduced during the last few months there’s a likelihood that knife related incidents may start to increase as we come out of lockdown, as it has previously.

“Hertfordshire has been developing its Serious Violence Strategy over a number of years, in partnership with local government, schools, charities and other agencies to look at different solutions, some of which have been successful in other parts of the country.

“We have been focussing on preventing these things happening at a much earlier stage, by understanding the issues that are driving, predominantly young people, into making these decisions and to form a proactive problem solving approach.

“As part of this long term strategy we have been running initiatives in schools around the county, working with charities like St Giles Trust and the Ollie Foundation, who have been visiting schools and giving talks to students.

"We have also set up a dedicated gangs and schools team to develop engagement projects to encourage young people to make positive choices.

"The team have been running our #LivesnotKnives campaign, which is a countywide initiative aimed at working with local sports clubs including Watford and Stevenage FC to encourage young people to engage in sports and other positive activities.

“As part of our continuing campaign to drive down knife crime, we regularly support the national knife amnesties, the next of which is being conducted from 26 April, to help reduce the number of knives in circulation.

"During the week we will also be running lots of other activities aimed at engaging and educating young people about the dangers of knife crime.

“We have also been carrying out enforcement activities, including deploying knife arches and detection wands, carrying out weapon sweeps in public areas and test purchasing operations at knife retailers.”

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said the Government is investing millions into tackling the causes of violent crime, supporting "vital" youth projects and working with local partners to protect young people at risk.

He added: “Too many young lives are being needlessly lost. We are working closely with the police and others to stop this senseless bloodshed, particularly as Covid restrictions are eased over the coming months."