Fatal stabbings in England and Wales have reached the highest level since records began more than 70 years ago, official figures show.
The homicide rate also rose by 15% in one year – the highest level in a decade, according to the data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and crimes recorded by the police.
Between March 2017 and 2018, 285 killings were carried out with a knife or sharp instrument – the highest since Home Office records began in 1946.
The rates, recorded by police, marked the fourth consecutive annual rise in homicides following a long-term decline.
Homicides – excluding those committed in terrorist attacks in London and Manchester or the recording of events at Hillsborough in 1989 – rose from 606 in the previous year to 695 in the year ending 2018.
When these exceptions are included, there were 726 homicides in the year ending March 2018, the highest since 2008 when 729 were recorded.
For every million people in England and Wales, there were 12 killings. More men and young people were killed than any other group. For every million men there were 17 killings, while there were eight killings for every million women.
Men were more likely than women to be killed by a friend or acquaintance – 25% compared with 7% of female victims.
Trends in domestic abuse also continued, with women far more likely then men to be killed by a partner or ex-partner – 33% of female victims compared with 1% of male victims. A separate report from the ONS revealed that more than half of all violent incidents were experienced by repeat victims, a trend that was most common among victims of domestic abuse.
Over the past four years, the level of violent crime has remained fairly static, but incidents recorded by police showed an increase in crimes in which a higher level of harm was caused.
The CSEW showed that more than 60% of violent incidents that occurred in the year did not come to the attention of the police.