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The UK's top knife crime hotspots

A man pulling a knife out of his pocket

Knife crime, defined as any crime involving a blade or sharp object, is undoubtedly one of the UK’s greatest societal concerns of our time. It’s an issue that generates headlines and desperate calls for politicians to take action, and often leads to wider debates about the reasons for anti-social behaviour and gang violence in cities across the country.

Using official ONS statistics gathered between 2020 and 2021, it’s possible to map out where knife crime has been particularly prevalent. The numbers in this rundown come from that time frame.

South Yorkshire

Number of knife crimes: 1,319

Our rundown begins in South Yorkshire, a region encompassing Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham. Although the number of violent crimes, in general, fell between 2020 and 2021, knife attacks continue to have an awful impact in these parts.

Many crimes recorded in that time were shocking acts that defy rational explanation, including the murder of a 55-year-old woman who was stabbed 12 times by her sister. Others were the result of petty violence getting tragically out of control – such as the death of a 35-year-old man who was knifed while trying to stop a street brawl between members of his own family.

Thames Valley

Number of knife crimes: 1,408

The Thames Valley region sprawls across South East England, covering areas like Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. While it includes many of the most genteel parts of the country, it’s certainly no stranger to knife crime.

There have also been concerns over a decrease in the number of knife crime offenders receiving prison sentences. Figures show that, in the year ending March 2022, only 22% of knife crime convictions led to immediate custody. This revelation comes in the wake of shocking knife attacks, including several in the city of dreaming spires, Oxford. One resident of an Oxford suburb told a local reporter that she was ‘used to’ knife crime. ‘It’s always happening around here,’ she said.


Number of knife crimes: 1,536

First the good news: police stats show that knife crime in Essex has declined in recent times. However, this region is still blighted by violence involving bladed weapons, and police have spoken about the particular importance of cracking down on gangs and county lines drugs suppliers. It’s telling that a survey of young people in Essex, conducted a few years ago, revealed that one of their biggest worries was the likelihood of being stabbed.

Beyond gang-related violence, Essex has also witnessed attacks of sudden savagery. An example was the recent case of a father-of-four, who had gone to pick up a friend for work early one morning. He accidentally woke up the man’s brother, who promptly stabbed him to death in a rage.

West Yorkshire

Number of knife crimes: 2,200

West Yorkshire is where you’ll find the great cities of Leeds and Bradford. It’s also, unfortunately, quite high up on the list of knife crime hotspots. A particularly egregious case unfolded in September 2022, when a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death outside his Huddersfield school in what police called a ‘targeted attack’.

The deputy mayor of West Yorkshire warned, earlier in the year, that the region lacked the finances to tackle the problem of knife crime. This is borne out by the headlines, with a recent news article detailing the exploits of the so-called ‘Peaky Minors’ – a gang of children, some as young as 12, who carry knives and deal drugs in areas of Leeds.

Greater Manchester

Number of knife crimes: 3,027

Knife crime has long been a major concern in Greater Manchester, with three people being murdered in just one week in August 2022. One victim was the cousin of superstar boxer Tyson Fury, fatally stabbed while out watching the Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk fight.

Greater Manchester’s deputy chief constable has urged local communities to band together to tackle rising rates of knife crime, saying: ‘Please don't think that every knife carrier is some big gang member. It could be your son, your daughter or your partner.’

West Midlands

Number of knife crimes: 4,562

The West Midlands is home to the UK’s second city, Birmingham, and such heavily urbanised heartlands may explain why this region ranks so high when it comes to knife crime. Indeed, in 2022 West Midlands police reported a 46% increase in such offences, compared to the year before.

It’s also been revealed that the number of children involved in knife crimes in the West Midlands has almost tripled over the past five years. This is why knife surrender bins have been installed in areas like Stourbridge and Wolverhampton, with one sponsored by the family of a 24-year-old man tragically stabbed to death while on a night out in 2017.


Number of knife crimes: 10,131

It probably won’t come as a shock to see that London takes the ‘top’ spot. Knife crime in the nation’s capital is a hot button political issue, with fierce debates over the underlying intersections of income inequality, race and policing policies.

The fact is that crime involving blades is a soaring scourge, with a report last year stating that Hackney was the borough with the highest knife crime rates, and areas like Newham and Croydon also saw high numbers of stabbings. The stats aren’t solely linked to gang member on gang member violence. There have also been reports of ordinary residents targeted by moped-riding muggers armed with machetes, compounding concerns over how things will pan out in the city.