People caught with guns and knives in Huntingdonshire surges amid increase in crime in the district


- Credit: Archant

The number of people caught with guns and knives in Huntingdonshire has increased by more than a third, according to the latest police recorded crime statistics.

There were 78 weapons possession offences between April 2017 and March 2018, according to data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). These can include hand guns, knives and even corrosive acid.

That figure is up 36.8 per cent on 2016-17, when 57 incidents were recorded.

The statistics are based on crimes reported to the police, and the ONS urges caution in interpreting some of these figures.

Some offences go unreported while others may be more numerous due to a change in the focus of the police or greater public attention.

However, the ONS’ Caroline Youell said that along with weapons offences, the number of stabbings and killings has genuinely gone up.

Ms Youell said: “There have been increases in some lower-volume ‘high-harm’ offences such as homicide and knife crime, consistent with rises over the past three years.

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“However, the latest rise in gun crime is much smaller than previously seen.”

Across England and Wales there was a 16 per cent increase in offences with knives or sharp objects and a 12 per cent rise in homicides - murders and manslaughters - excluding charges from the Hillsborough disaster and terror attacks.

Overall, police recorded crime in Huntingdonshire increased in 2017-18.

During the last year 9,983 crimes were recorded, up by 13 per cent on 2016-17.

That means there was a rate of 56 crimes per 1,000 residents during 2017-18, below the England and Wales average of 82.

There were 695 residential burglaries reported in Huntingdonshire. Due to a change in how the ONS categorises burglaries, the localised figure cannot be compared with other years.

There has been one homicide, a murder or manslaughter. There were six cases of death or injury by dangerous driving.

Theft, one of the most high volume crimes, has increased by eight per cent. Drugs related offences slightly rose by 3.2 per cent.

Ms Youell said: “Most people don’t experience crime. The figures show a fairly stable picture in England and Wales for most crime types.

“We have seen continued increases in some theft offences such as vehicle-related theft and burglary, while computer viruses have fallen.”

Criminal damage, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone down, from 1,410 incidents in 2016-17, to 1,341 in the latest figures.

While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, this could just be due to improved police recording as opposed to an increase in incidents.

Similarly sexual crime statistics are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to a series of high profile cases.

In Huntingdonshire there were 265 incidents recorded in 2017-18, a 4% decrease on the previous year, when 277 crimes were reported.

There were also 457 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: “We treat crimes involving weapons very seriously and the rise is concerning. People carrying knives often do so without understanding the real consequences of using them: the devastation caused to victims who are seriously injured or fatally wounded, their families, the life outcomes for the person using the knife and the communities in which crime occurs.

“Being in possession of a knife in a public place without good reason is unlawful and can result in heavy fines and a lifelong criminal record.

“Several times a year we run knife amnesties where the public are encouraged to hand in weapons. We also run campaigns, both online and in schools, to educate people about the dangers of carrying knives.”