The number of knife and offensive weapons offences formally dealt with in England and Wales last year was the highest for almost a decade, official figures show.

More than 21,000 incidents were recorded in 2018, the highest number since 2009 (25,103 offences).

Last year, 21,484 offences of possessing or making threats with blades or offensive weapons resulted in a conviction or caution.

One in five of the culprits was aged under 18.

The proportion of offenders for who it was their first knife or offensive weapon possession offence (80%) has been decreasing and is now at its lowest level since the series began in 2008.

Almost two-thirds of cases did not result in an immediate prison term, but the number is up compared to 20% in 2008.

The average jail sentence under section 28, which refers to repeat offences involving offensive weapons, rose from 7.1 months in 2016, the first full year after the legislation was introduced, to 7.8 months in 2018.

It comes as police forces were awarded an extra £100m in the chancellor’s Spring Statement to tackle knife crime.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the money was just a short-term fix while knife crime continues to plague our towns and cities.

There have been 39 fatal stabbings in Britain since the beginning of this year.

Official statistics showed that, in the year to March 2018, there were 285 homicides where the method of killing was a knife or sharp instrument – the highest number since the Home Office’s Homicide Index began in 1946.

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(c) Sky News 2019: Knife and offensive weapons offences formally dealt with reach 9-year high