The number of people convicted for carrying a knife has jumped by 78 per cent in five years here in Northamptonshire, shock new statistics show.
The figures, released by the Ministry of Justice, mark the county out as having the second highest rise in the country.
In 2013 Northamptonshire saw 186 people convicted for carrying a knife.
But in 2018 that number leapt to 323. Only neighbouring Leicestershire Constabulary has seen a greater proportional rise of 96 per cent.
Here in Northamptonshire, major steps are being taken to curb such offences - though, last week, chief constable of the county force Nick Adderley told the Chronicle and Echo the country's knife crime 'epidemic' would not be solved overnight.
The force is currently running a scheme to dissuade young men and boys from joining gangs known as the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV).
However, chief Inspector Neil Dorothy, head of prevention and intervention at Northamptonshire Police, said the statistical rise could be down to the fact police are getting more effective at prosecuting knife offenders.
He said: “Knife crime is a national issue that Northamptonshire Police takes very seriously and is tackling head-on.
“The force has been bringing more people to justice over knife-related offending and will continue to do so. Our officers are dedicated to fighting crime and protecting people, both in terms of proactive policing and preventative engagement and diversion work."
As part of the CIRV programme, would-be gang members hear testimonies from parents whose children have been killed by knives.
And chief inspector Dorothy said it was already having a positive effect.
He added: "CIRV also provides a clear message that the force will not hesitate to take action against those who seek to commit crime in our communities. The programme is seeing good levels of referrals, and is also bringing in intelligence and opportunities to challenge knife crime head-on."
Over the past week the force has also been taking part in Operation Sceptre, a nationwide initiative dedicated to tackling knife crime.
The results of the operation will be shared following its conclusion on Sunday, March 17.
Chief inspector Dorothy said: “We’re not standing still on knife crime and will continue to work with our partners and communities to tackle this issue together.”