Stabbings behind hundreds of admissions at Bedford Hospital and Luton & Dunstable
Half of those involved people aged under 25
Assaults with knives and other sharp objects led to hundreds of hospital admissions involving Bedfordshire residents in less than a decade, figures show.
Anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust called for more to be done to educate children about the impact of knife crime, with two in five stabbing admissions across England involving young people.
Between April 2012 and March this year, there were around 560 admissions of patients from the Bedfordshire policing area following an assault with a sharp object, according to data from NHS Digital.
Of those, around 49 per cent involved people aged under 25.
Around 50 admissions followed attacks on people from the area in 2020-21 – the most recent period with complete data.
Figures are rounded to the nearest five to protect patient confidentiality.
The police force covering the patient's area of residence is recorded, meaning the assault could have happened elsewhere.
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said knife crime was a policing priority nationally and that early intervention played a vital role in stopping young people from becoming involved in crime.
He added: "Preventing people from carrying knives is not something that police forces can do alone – it requires schools, charities, the health service and community groups to work together.
"It is through engagement and working with partners that we can deliver long-lasting change and ensure young people can see the devastating effects carrying a knife can have."
English NHS hospitals have recorded more than 38,000 hospital admissions of patients from police force areas in both England and Wales since 2012-13 – 40 per cent% of them involving young people.
And youngsters accounted for the same proportion of 4,000 hospital admissions recorded nationally in 2020-21.
Patrick Green, CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust – a knife crime charity established in memory of a young stabbing victim – said the statistics were "shocking".
He said: "These figures show that knife crime remains a significant problem for the criminal justice system and the NHS.
"But more worryingly, they show that we are failing to protect young people.
"We need to do far more to educate young people about the dangers of knife crime."
Separate Home Office crime figures for England and Wales show 262 people lost their lives to a blade in the year to June, with nearly 47,000 serious knife crimes recorded in that time.
In Bedfordshire police recorded 628 serious knife crimes over the same period, including two murders, 309 assaults involving injury and 10 knife-related rapes or sexual offences.
The NPCC spokesman said tactics such as stop and search and the targeting of habitual knife carriers contributed to the rising number of offensive weapon crimes nationally.
He added: "We believe that with the addition of officers to the service and investment into new Violence Reduction Units, informed by active communities, we can play our role in preventing more tragic deaths.”
A Government spokesman said the introduction of a Serious Violence Duty would esure all parts of the public sector worked together to protect people from harm.
He added: "Every life lost to knife crime is a tragedy that didn’t have to happen.
"That's why we are putting 20,000 more police officers on our streets and also giving them greater powers of stop and search, so that more dangerous weapons can be seized and more lives saved."