MORE than 1,000 Hampshire children were convicted or cautioned for knife crimes in just over a decade, figures show.

Ministry of Justice figures for Hampshire Constabulary show young people were involved in 1,065 of the 4,848 cases resulting in cautions or convictions between July 2010 and June 2021 – making up 22 per cent of those punished.

A total of 527 of those punishments were handed to children aged between just 10 and 15-years-old.

Of the youngsters convicted in Hampshire, most (88%) were first time offenders but 127 had at least one previous conviction, and eight had three or more.

Young offenders were sent to prison in 103 of the cases recorded in the last 11 years, while 445 investigations ended with community sentences and 458 led to a caution being issued.

Of the cautions and convictions in 2020-21, 127 were handed down in Hampshire.

Hampshire Constabulary has said they are working closely with schools and charities in a bid to tackle knife crime.

Melanie Golding, acting superintendent as head of public protection department at Hampshire Constabulary, said: “We fully understand the impact that knife crime can have on victims, the family and loved ones of those affected as well as on local communities across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

“The figures released by the Ministry of Justice indicate the true extent of knife crime and serious violence - not only across Hampshire over the last 10 years – but how this has evolved as a societal issue during this period across the UK.

“As a Constabulary, we continue to work closely with the Violence Reduction Units (VRU), schools, charities and the Safe City Partnerships to tackle serious violence and divert young people away from becoming involved with knife crime."

She added: “We are currently working with the St. Giles Trust to deliver education and early intervention packages around serious violence to 60 schools across Hampshire targeting those children and young people in Year 6 and Year 7; and seeking to educate them about knife crime, child criminal exploitation, county lines drug dealing and gang violence. This is a product which has been jointly funded by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police and Crime Commissioner, the Violence Reduction Unit and Hampshire Constabulary.

“At a national and local level, Hampshire Constabulary regularly takes part in national intensification weeks, such as Operation Sceptre, which focuses on tackling and disrupting the importation and supply of knives, targeting those who carry and use knives and preventing people from engaging in knife crime.

“This activity allows us to engage with a wide-range of young people across Hampshire who may be vulnerable or at risk of exploitation; all with a view to educating them around the dangers of carrying a knife, even if they are doing so for protection, as well as the associated risks concerning the knife crime agenda.

“Our message to young people out in their local communities is that if they are under pressure to deal drugs, carry a knife or commit crime, while walking away is often the hardest thing to do, it's the safest thing to do.

“If you don't carry a knife, you won’t risk having it used by you or against you.”