Police say a huge jump in crimes involving people carrying weapons in Northamptonshire shows their crackdown on violence is working.
Office for National Statistics data showed increases of nearly one-third in Corby and Northampton in the number of offences involving possession of weapons such as firearms or knives.
Chief Superintendent Adam Ward, the force lead on knife crime, said: “Because of our increased focus in this area we fully expected knife possession to increase in the county.
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“We inevitably find weapons when we make more arrests and conduct more searches.”
Across Northamptonshire, weapons offences increased by 19 percent from 774 in the year to March 2022, up from 651 in 2020-21.
But that included rises of 29 percent in Corby and 32 percent in Northampton.
Small increases were recorded in Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northamptonshire while figures fell from 65 to 60 in Daventry and South Northants.
At the same time, the overall number of violent crimes across the county rose by just a fraction to 27,219 from 27,122 last year.
Police pledged to up their game over tackling knife crime following a spate of high-profile incidents during 2021.
These included the deaths of 16-year-olds Dylan Holliday in Wellingborough and Rayon Pennycook in Corby.
Eighteen-year-old Stefan Draca was sentenced to 15 years after being found guilty of murdering Rayon following a trial in December.
The trial of two boys accused of killing Dylan is continuing at Coventry Crown Court.
More people are also being charged under new laws prohibiting keeping potential weapons in private.
Chief Supt Ward added: “Knife crime remains a matter of priority for the Force and over the past 12 months we’ve stepped up our policing proactivity to tackle knife crime in the county.
“This included a three-month dedicated campaign aimed at preventing knife crime by working alongside our partners to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying knives and bust the myths associated with this type of offending.
“Through education, engagement, and enforcement we have continued to build on the foundation of this campaign.
“In addition to this, changes to the Offensive Weapons Act have made it an offence to own certain prohibited weapons in a private setting, which are recorded in line with Home Office criteria.
“These types of offences have also had an impact on data — which is a good thing as it means we are seizing more dangerous weapons which we wouldn’t have been able to so without this legislation.
“There is still much more work to do in tackling knife crime and there is no room for complacency, however the increase in possession offences is a positive in that we have taken more knives off the streets in a bid to make our communities safer places to live and work.”
In May, Chief Constable Nick Adderley pledged to “widen the net on crimes” where Northamptonshire Police focuses its greatest attention — including serious, violent and organised crime over the next three years.
Violence against women and girls and drugs harm are also “Matters of Priority” which the chief pledged will be the “focus of relentless activity until 2025.”