Rise in number of people in St Helens caught with knives and guns latest crime figures show

Overall, police recorded crime in StHelens increased in 2018
Overall, police recorded crime in StHelens increased in 2018

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

There were 112 weapons possession offences in 2018, data from the Office for National Statistics shows. These can include hand guns, knives and even corrosive acid.

That figure is up 29% on 2017, when 87 incidents were recorded.

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

However, statisticians said that recorded crime figures are reliable for lower-volume offences, such as possession of a knife or a gun.

The rise was reflected nationally. Across England and Wales there was a 21% increase in offences with knives or sharp objects.

Alexa Bradley, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: "When we look at the overall level of crime, there has been no significant change over the last year.

"However, it is important to look at each crime type. Robbery and vehicle offences have increased whereas burglary has decreased.

"Lower-volume, high-harm violence involving knives has risen, whereas offences involving firearms have decreased."

Overall, police recorded crime in St Helens increased in 2018.

Over the period, 15,777 crimes were recorded, up by 10% on 2016-17.

That means there was a rate of 88 crimes per 1,000 residents during 2018, slightly below the England and Wales average of 88.

There were 959 residential burglaries reported in St Helens. Due to a change in how the ONS categorises burglaries, the localised figure cannot be compared with other years.

There have been four homicides, which are murders or manslaughters. There were two cases of death or injury by dangerous driving.

Across England and Wales, the number of recorded homicides rose by 6%, the highest level in a decade. These figures excluded people who died in terror attacks.

Theft, one of the most high volume crimes, slightly decreased by 2%. Drugs-related offences rose by 11%.

Commenting on the national figures, Chief Constable Bill Skelly, of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "Rising crime, increased terrorist activity and fewer police officers have put serious strain on the policing we offer to the public.

"We are determining the additional capabilities and investment we need to drive down violence and catch more criminals - and we will make the case at the next Government Spending Review."

Policing minister Nick Hurd said: "New statistics show that your chance of being a victim of crime remains low. Yet too many people are still falling victim to serious violence, which is why we will continue our urgent and unprecedented action to reverse this terrible trend.

"We have given police forces additional powers and have this year put more than £1 billion extra into policing."

Criminal damage in St Helens, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone down, from 2,487 incidents in 2017, to 2,031 in the latest figures.

While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, this could be due to improved police recording.

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

In St Helens, there were 390 incidents recorded in 2018, a 20% rise on the previous year, when 326 crimes were reported.

There were also 1,664 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.