A record number of criminals were convicted or cautioned for knife and offensive weapon crimes in South Wales last year, new figures reveal.

Ministry of Justice statistics show that criminals were cautioned or sentenced for knife and offensive weapons offences in South Wales on 506 occasions in the year to September 2019 – the highest since 2010.

This is consistent with wider trends across England and Wales, where figures for such records reached 22,300.

The number includes possession of, or threatening with, a knife or other offensive weapon.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the rising level of knife crime “undermines all Tory claims on Law and Order.”

She added: “Unfortunately, until they tackle the crises they created through cuts to policing, schools, to mental health and drug services, there can be little confidence of any major improvement.”

Across England and Wales, 38% of knife and offensive weapon offences ended with someone going straight to jail in the year to September 2019 – a record high.

The average time spend behind bars also increased over the period, from six to eight months.

Justice minister Chris Philp said the Government is recruiting 20,000 more police officers, extending stop and search and making sure the most violent offenders spend longer behind bars.

A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said:

“Every incident involving a knife has consequences for all those involved, and so this is an issue we take extremely seriously.

“We have invested in several measures to help tackle the issue. These include dedicated units based primarily in our two cities, part of the wider proactive and intelligence-led activity in response to the needs of communities across South Wales – some of which you may see, but much of which is carried out covertly.

“Engaging with young people is extremely important. We speak to thousands of youngsters every year to help get across the message that picking up a knife is always the wrong choice.

“We also continue to work with partners including in health, education and trading standards, and have also carried out more than 6,100 intelligence-led stop searches in the last six months.

“We would urge everyone to speak to their loved ones, but also let their local police or community support officers know if they think someone is carrying a knife.”

If you believe that someone may be carrying a knife, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on:0800 555111.