On 9 April 2018, the Government published the Serious Violence Strategy to set out the action it is taking to address serious violence and in particular the recent increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide. The Strategy is taking a multi-strand approach. Law enforcement is very important, but it also depends on partnerships across a number of sectors, such as education, health, social services, housing, youth services, victim services and others.
We have reviewed the evidence and the strategy sets out the trends and drivers of serious violence. The evidence shows that while overall crime continues to fall, homicide, knife crime and gun crime have increased since 2014 across virtually all police force areas in England and Wales. Robbery has also risen sharply since 2016. The increases have been accompanied by a shift towards younger victims and perpetrators. About half the rise in knife/gun crime and robbery is probably due to improvements in police recording. However, for the remainder, drug-related cases seem to be an important driver. Between 2014/15 and 2016/17, homicides where either the victim or suspect were known to be involved in using or dealing illicit drugs increased from 50% to 57%
The analysis in the Serious Violence Strategy shows that changes in the drugs market is a major factor in the recent increases as: Crack-cocaine markets have strong links to serious violence and evidence suggests crack use is rising in England and Wales; County lines drugs dealing is also associated with violence and exploitation and its spread is also a key factor; It is also thought that drugs-market violence may be facilitated and spread by social media, which is used to glamorise gang or drug-selling life, taunt rivals and normalise weapons carrying; and there is an increase in the number of individuals who are most vulnerable.
Our analysis also looks at the evidence of the key risk factors which may mean a young person may have a greater propensity to get involved in crime than would otherwise be the case. It also sets out the evidence supporting the importance of early intervention with young people and encouraging positive activities to engage them in and build links with their community.