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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
Stabbings 'are on the increase'
Image of knives
Most of the victims were men
Deaths and injuries from knife stabbings are increasing, according to doctors at one London hospital.

An audit at The Royal London Hospital found a rise in admissions for stabbing injuries over the last decade.

The evidence appears to show that knife injuries are an epidemic, the team told the British Medical Journal.

In London last year there were 1,200 reported stabbings, and 30% of homicides involved a knife, police and Home Office data show.

Tackling knife crime is a government priority
A Home Office spokeswoman

However, in England and Wales, 6% of all violent crime is knife related - a figure which has remained stable for several years.

Earlier this year, Britain had a five-week amnesty aimed at tackling knife crime - the first of its kind in a decade.

Charles Knowles and colleagues at The Royal London Hospital, which is in east London, analysed data on 309 crime-related knife injuries from a database of all trauma calls from July 2004 to June 2006.

Stabbing statistics

Most of the patients were men, with an average age of 28. The chest was the most common area injured.

Of those injured, 259 were admitted to the hospital, 184 were operated on, and eight died.

When the researchers looked back at data from July 1997, they found the number of stabbings had increased significantly over recent years.

More of the stabbings also required surgical intervention, suggesting increasing severity of injury in recent years too.

Maralyn Woodford of the UK Trauma Audit and Research Network said: "There has been a significant increase in stabbing injuries since 2001. But it has remained at that 2001 level. There has not been a year on year increase since then in the UK."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Tackling knife crime is a government priority."

She said they were planning to increase the maximum sentence for carrying a knife in public without good reason from two to four years.

"We will also raise the age limit for buying a knife from 16 to 18 and give head teachers the power to search for pupils with dangerous weapons," she said.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "This is a direct consequence of Labour's failure to tackle violent crime on our streets.

"The government must now get an urgent grip and act."


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