A spate of fatal stabbings around the country, including the killing of Connor Brown in Sunderland earlier this year, have put the issue high on the political agenda.
Northumbria Police Chief Constable Winton Keenan cautioned against sensationalising the issue and added that the region did not suffer from the ‘street gang culture’ which has been driving attacks in other parts of the country.
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But he did admit a ‘slight’ increase in the number of recorded incidents and in people arming themselves ‘for security reasons’.
“Knife crime is in the media all over the place, some of it’s sensationalised, some of it isn’t,” he said.
“The one thing I would say about knife crime is we are having a slight uplift, a four per cent increase over the last few years.
“But every increase we have is someone who is affected by knife crime. We’ve had two homicides involving knife crime and two is far too many.”
Chief constable Keenan was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council at South Shields Town Hall.
Since 2010, Northumbria Police has had about £140million wiped from its budget and lost more than 1,000 officers, as well as a similar number of support staff, leading to a cut of about a third in the total workforce.
The government promised an extra £100million to police forces across the country to tackle knife crime, but is still to confirm how the cash will be allocated or when.
The chief constable said he expected Northumbria would get about £2.3million.
He said: “That has been awarded by the government and welcomed, although we haven’t asked for it – it’s because of the number of admissions we have going through our A&E departments that involve pointed or bladed instruments.”
Coun Keith Roberts, who said his Bede ward, in Jarrow, was ‘wicked with crime’, urged the chief constable to visit and see for himself.
The chief constable also warned about the possibility of a ‘spike’ in hate crimes as Brexit comes to a head, but said the force was already preparing for this.