Gun crime in Cambridgeshire at highest level for more than 10 years
Gun offences in Cambridgeshire are at the highest level for more than 10 years, police figures show.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary investigated 84 offences involving a firearm between April 2017 and March 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That is the highest number in more than a decade. In 2016-17, there were 62 cases.
The incidents counted are offences where a gun has been used. Nationally the most common crime category involving a firearm was violence against the person, followed by robbery.
Across England and Wales, gun offences are at their highest level since 2010-11.
Peter Squires, a criminologist and member of non-profit group the Gun Control Network, said his research showed an "increasing supply of illegal firearms coming in through Europe".
He said guns were getting into the UK "through fast parcel service, internet based orders and regular smuggling coming in through confinements of drugs".
“A particular concern has involved the rising use of antique firearms, being recycled for criminal use, and shotguns being stolen from farms and sawn down and used by criminals,” he added.
According to the ONS, the most common firearm used nationally was a handgun.
The figures also show the number of offences involving a knife or sharp object.
In 2017-18, Cambridgeshire Constabulary recorded 535 cases with knives or sharp weapons.
That’s more than double the number of incidents four years earlier.
There are 63 knife offences per 100,000 people in Cambridgeshire, lower than the national average which is 69 per 100,000.
Across England and Wales, the number of fatal stabbings hit the highest level since comparable records began, more than 70 years ago.
Diana Fawcett, chief officer at charity Victim Support, said: "We're now witnessing the highest ever number of knife-related deaths and it's deeply troubling that these rises are being driven by a huge increase in the number of young people whose lives are being lost to this epidemic.
"These figures further highlight the need for all agencies to come together to tackle this increasing crisis which is destroying lives and shattering communities."
The number of homicides in Cambridgeshire dropped last year, from nine cases in 2016-17 to six in the latest period.
A homicide is a murder or manslaughter. Across the East of England, the number of homicides decreased by 8% over the last year, to 54 cases.
Policing and fire minister, Nick Hurd, said: "Tackling the impact of violent crime remains a government priority and it is crucial to stamp this out."
Mr Hurd explained the Serious Violence Strategy targets early intervention against possible offenders.
"We are investing a further £220 million in community early intervention projects and have made clear that all public bodies need to treat serious violence as a priority," he said.
Mr Hurd added that the Government has proposed "the biggest increase in police funding since 2010".