What is crime?

A crime is an act done by a person which is against the laws of a country or region. Things like killing another person, injuring another person, or stealing from another person are crimes in most countries. Also, it can be a crime to have or sell contraband such as guns or illegal drugs.

What is knife crime?

Criminal offences committed using a knife as a weapon.


Gun and knife crime includes stabbing or shooting someone. But it's also illegal to:

1. Carry a knife

2. Threaten someone with a knife or gun

3. Commit a crime with the use of a weapon - like a robbery

4. Commit a crime by pretending you have a real knife or gun.

If you carry a knife or weapon, you're more likely to be targeted by people who want to hurt you.


Knife crime offences rise to highest level since 2010

Courts in England and Wales dealt with 21,381 offences to the end of September

Some people carry weapons like knives and guns to feel protected, because of peer pressure or to feel powerful. If you have a weapon you might not always plan to use it - whether you use the weapon or not, it is still illegal.

Police have the power to stop and search you if they think you or your friends have a weapon. You could be arrested or go to prison for carrying, buying or selling a weapon.

Situations involving weapons can get out of control very easily and you might not have time to think about your actions. You might feel safe by carrying a weapon, but it's very dangerous.

If you carry a weapon, you are putting your life and your future in danger.

If you carry a weapon, you are more likely to:

1. Be attacked or threatened by other gangs who use weapons

2. Be arrested by the police

3. Kill or injure yourself badly with your weapon

4. Hurt or kill others with your weapon

5. Hurt innocent people if a fight happens

6. Be charged with murder through joint enterprise if you're at a place where someone is killed, even if you weren't carrying the weapon.


You may feel pressure from other people at school. You might want to be in a gang.

You might feel like you have to protect yourself. But carrying a knife is dangerous for you and other people.

It has been proven that if you carry a knife or weapon you are more likely to be targeted by people who want to hurt you, and more likely to be injured or even die because of this.

You shouldn't ever have to feel scared.

Why do people carry guns and knives?

Guns and knives can cause serious injury or even death. People who carry guns or knives may not ever plan to use them or hurt anyone. But they may find themselves in a situation that gets out of control.

Someone might want to carry one because they:

Are scared and worried about their safety or the safety of friends


Possession of a knife carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years even if it's not used.


If you are caught with a knife it doesn't matter if it was for your own protection or you were carrying it for someone else - you will be arrested and prosecuted. Self-protection is not a reasonable excuse for carrying an offensive weapon.


The legal definition of an offensive weapon includes anything intended to be used to harm another person, like a sharpened comb. It's also illegal to carry a 'disguised knife' - anything with a concealed blade or sharp point that's made to look like an everyday object (like a pen, cigarette lighter or lipstick).


There is no ‘safe place’ to stab someone. Get stabbed in the heart and you can lose all of your blood in one minute. But a wound in the arm or the leg can still kill and young people have died from wounds to the leg because an artery was severed.


Knife crime can affect anyone, not just people in gangs. Innocent bystanders can get caught in the middle of other people's disputes and suffer trauma, serious injuries or worse.


Knife crime is falling in Scotland, fewer people are carrying knives and doing so is becoming less and less acceptable among young people.


Police can - and do - stop and search anyone they think is carrying a weapon.

There is nothing new about knife crime: sharp objects, blades and knives have been used as weapons for thousands of years.

But after falling for several years, knife crime in England and Wales is rising again. So what is happening?

There were 40,147 offences in the 12 months ending in March 2018, a 16% increase on the previous year and the highest number since 2011, the earliest point for which comparable data is available.

Out of the 44 police forces, 38 recorded a rise in knife crime since 2011.

Chart showing that knives are most often used in assaults and robberies in England and Wales

All of the statistics here relate to England and Wales. Policing, criminal justice and sentencing are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which also collect crime data in slightly different ways.

Knife crime offences rise to highest level since 2010.

Courts in England and Wales dealt with 21,381 offences to the end of September.

One knife. Many victims.

Comments (4)

You must be logged in with Student Hub access to post a comment. Sign up now!