Knife crime is on the rise in Southwark due to a cut in police community support officer (PCSO) numbers which has resulted in a 57 per cent decrease in the stop and searches of under 18s over the last three years, an FOI has revealed.

The hike in knife crime seems to be due to a decrease of just under 30 per cent from 4, 576 in the first year and a further 40 per cent in the second year.

Only 16 per cent of knife crime offenders being persecuted in 2013 and 2014, far from the London average of 25 per cent.

Twenty-one per cent of knife crimes in Southwark are committed by under 18s, according to the FOI.

In comparison, stop and searches of under 18s for Lambeth has dropped only by 5 per cent from 2, 564 since 2012, resulting in a higher clear-up rate of 23 per cent.

The rise in youth violence in the area is also a result of government-imposed cuts to youth service budgets that fund organisations that work with young people who are at risk of getting involved in crime. Many such organisations in the area have been closed down including the recent closure of Look Ahead, at 32 Borough Road. It was a youth hostel for young people from a deprived background and had resident youth workers who worked with challenged young people, some of whom were offenders.

Liberal Democrats councillor and Community Safety representative, David Hubber, has said that the council is currently embroiled in trying to come up with a way to tackle knife crime.

“PCSOs are the eyes and ears of the community and they get to know people and build useful contacts for the police by talking to everyone, especially young people. If those

numbers are reduced, it places more of a burden on the police as they have to respond to things which PCSOs would have been able to deal with”, he said.

“I have raised the issue at cabinet meetings recently about what we can do to tackle knife crime but since then we haven’t come up with anything concrete. Southwark has the knife crime rate in London which doesn’t look good for us.”