Knives are the most common murder weapon in the UK, where guns are tightly restricted. About 40 percent of murder victims were stabbed to death last year, while only 4 percent were shot.

Police forensic officers at the scene in east London Saturday March 2, 2019, following the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old girl on Friday night.
Police forensic officers at the scene in east London Saturday March 2, 2019, following the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old girl on Friday night. (AP)

There were 285 knife murders in England and Wales in the year to March 2018, the highest number since comparable records began in 1946. The number of people admitted to hospitals with blade injuries rose 8 percent from the year before.

After falling for a decade, knife crime is on the rise in Britain.

Both the causes of the crime wave and its solutions are hotly disputed. Police leaders and opposition politicians blame years of public spending cuts by the Conservative-led government, which has slashed funding to police by almost 20 percent since 2010, leading to 20,000 fewer officers on the streets.

The UK government cuts to local budgets also mean there are fewer youth programmes and after-school activities and worse mental health services for young people in many areas.

"Of course there's a link between youth centres having massive cuts, mental health services having massive cuts, schools having massive cuts, children's services having massive cuts and young people having less constructive things to do," said London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a member of the opposition Labour Party.

"The government needs to wake up, reverse these cuts to our police — but also our preventative services too," he told Sky News.

The government denies austerity is to blame. May insisted Monday there was "no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers."

She was contradicted by Britain's most senior police officer, who said "of course there is" a link between crime levels and police numbers.

Experts say rising crime can't be blamed solely on government cuts. Police and community workers say the surge in violence is partly driven by battles over control of the illegal drug trade. Social media plays a role in escalating disputes from online threats into real-life violence.

TRT World's Assed Baig reports.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies