KNIFE crime in England and Wales hit a record high in 2018/19, up 8 per cent on the previous year, official figures show.

Police recorded 43,516 offences involving knives or sharp objects in the year to March 2019, the highest since comparable records began in 2011.

The figures released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) do not include Greater Manchester Police, which records data differently.

There was a rise of 3,301 knife crime offences from 2017/18, with the volume of offences up 42 per cent since the year ending March 2011.

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "It's unacceptable that the knife crime crisis continues unabated with offences at record levels.

"Children are not born with knives in their hands, knife crime is a symptom of a much bigger problem.

"Our frontline support services say vulnerable children and young people are being recruited and exploited by criminal gangs and forced to traffic drugs and carry knives.

"Urgent action must be taken so that future generations are not condemned to live in an endless spiral of violence."

The number of homicides in 2018/19 increased slightly to 701 offences from 693 in the previous 12 months, excluding terror attacks.

However, the number of homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was involved decreased by 9 per cent in the last year, to 260 offences.

Scotland Yard, Britain's largest force, recorded 67 homicides involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year ending March 2019 - a 39 per cent reduction from 110 in the previous year, but higher than the 57 recorded in the year ending March 2017.

Total police-recorded crime, excluding fraud and computer misuse, stood at 5.26 million offences in 2018/19 - up from 4.88 million in 2017/18, a rise of 8 per cent.

The total number of violence against the person offences rose by 20% year-on-year to 1.67 million, while robbery offences rose by 11 per cent, to a total of 85,736.

Mark Bangs, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: "The picture of crime is a complex one. Overall levels of crime have remained steady, but this is not the case for all types of crime.

"For example, overall levels of violence have remained steady but we have seen increases in violent crimes involving knives and sharp instruments.

"We have seen increases in fraud and overall theft, but decreases in burglary following recent rises."