A massive increase in knife crime in the West Midlands has been blamed on cuts to the number of police officers.

Birmingham Erdington MP Jack Dromey said: "Young men are dying on the streets, some weeping as their life ebbs away".

Official figures show that West Midlands Police recorded 3,108 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the 12 months up to September 2018.

That's more than eight incidents a day on average.

It's up from 2,615 incidents the year before - an increase of 19 per cent.

And it means the number of offences has doubled over five years.

There were 1,508 knife or sharp instrument crimes in recorded by West Midlands Police in 2012-13.

At the same time, the number of police officers employed by West Midlands Police has fallen.

Just this week, a Walsall restaurant was put on lockdown after a stab victim "pouring with blood" ran inside begging for help.

Diners - including one young child - were locked inside Pizza Express following the incident, at around 6:30pm on Monday.

 

Mr Dromey challenged the Government in the House of Commons, telling Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins: "Are the Government seriously suggesting that there is no link between the cutting of 2,000 police officers in the west midlands - 21,000 nationwide - and rising knife crime?"

In reply, she told him the Home Office had set out plans to reduce violent crime and had looked at the experiences of other couuntries.

She said: "He will see in that the ways in which Home Office officials have analysed the data and set out the chief drivers of serious violence.

"There are correlations with other countries that have seen rises in serious violence, which is why we have looked to see what they are doing differently and whether there are any commonalities between their experiences and ours, but we have to look at this in the round.

"The public health approach, which has support across the House, is very much focused on prevention and early intervention, and that is what the strategy and the taskforce seek to achieve."

Jack Dromey, MP for Erdington

Official figures show knife crime in the West Midlands Police area fell between 2010 and 2013, but then started to rise again.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has set out plans to give police more powers to impose "Knife Crime Prevention Orders" on anyone who police believe is carrying a knife, are habitual knife carriers or people previously convicted of a knife related offence.

The new civil orders will also restrict behaviour by placing curfews and geographical restrictions on individuals as well as limiting their social media use – preventing the rapid escalation of rival disputes.#

 

Mr Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, said: "I have been clear that I will do everything in my power to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives.

"The police already have a range of measures they are using to keep our streets safe, but there is more we can do to help them in this battle. I have listened to their calls and will be introducing these new orders to stop gang members carrying knives in the first place.

"It is vital we continue to focus on improving the law enforcement response while at the same time steering young people away from criminal activity in the first place."

Breach of the order will be a criminal offence and the holder can be sent to prison for two years if convicted.

The Home Secretary will also be taking further action against retailers found to be selling knives to children. A new £500,000 prosecution fund will help Trading Standards teams to secure the prosecution of retailers who repeatedly sell knives to under 18s.