Birmingham & Black Country

West Midlands knife and gun crime halved in 10 years

The number of people killed with knives in the West Midlands has halved since 2002, according to police figures.

West Midlands Police said the number of fatal knife incidents dropped from 20 between April 2002 and March 2003 to 10 in the same period in 2011 to 2012.

However, 12 people died in knife-related incidents between April and December 2012, and on Friday, two men were stabbed to death in Birmingham.

Ch Insp Simon Wallis said fatal incidents were "mercifully rare".

Mr Wallis, West Midlands Police's knife-crime lead officer, said: "In the last decade, the number of reported incidents involving knives has reduced by around 75 per cent.

"There have been some high profile, tragic deaths involving knives but these are mercifully rare."

Football projects

Deaths from gun crime have also gone down from nine in 2002-03 to two in 2011-12.

Det Supt Joanne Chilton, head of the gang task force at West Midlands Police, said the figures include domestic incidents and random attacks as well as gang-related crime but the overall drop in deaths was encouraging.

She said: "There's a whole host of reasons to explain why things have improved.

"We've been working closer with the Crown Prosecution Service and also the National Ballistic Intelligence Service to target gun crime."

The figures show a drop to seven people dying as a result of knife crime in 2009-10.

West Midlands Police is one of four forces who are part of the Home Office project, Communities Against Gun, Gangs and Knives."

The force has received nearly £1m in two years which has enabled it to set up a gang task force involving around 50 staff, said Mrs Chilton.

Det Supt Chilton said: "That money helps us target 10 to 19-year-olds in relation to gang crime by working with the community, for example football projects.

"Gun crime in particular is wider than gangs but focussing on activity associated with guns and knives helps us to tackle the crime rates."

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