KNIFE crime in Dorset has increased by almost 65 per cent over the last five years, new figures show.

Home Office figures show that Dorset Police recorded 234 crimes in which knives were used between October 2016 and September 2017, an increase of 65 per cent on the same period in 2012-13.

The most common offence recorded for those crimes was assault with injury or intent to cause serious harm. There were 131 such incidents recorded in the 12 months to September 2017, 56 per cent of all knife crimes.

In addition, there were 50 robberies using knives. Other knife crimes included three homicides, eight attempted murders and 34 death threats, as well as seven rapes and one sexual assault.

It comes after the Home Office released its published Serious Violence Strategy, which aims to prevent young people being drawn into a life of violence.

In a speech announcing the strategy, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that there were strong links between the rise in knife crime and drug dealing, with over half of deaths since 2014 involving a victim or a suspect using or dealing drugs.

Ms Rudd said: "I've seen what's going around our streets – the zombie knives, axes and bayonets.

"And let me tell you, it might have had a place in medieval warfare but it certainly doesn't have a place on our city streets."

Among the measures announced were new restrictions to be placed on the online sale of knives, and a complete ban on certain weapons, including zombie knives.

Dorset Police confirmed the statistics for the county, confirming that there had been a rise in knife crime nationally and this had also been reflected in Dorset.

A spokesman added: "This is in part due to better recording of incidents when a bladed item has been involved, but also as a result of issues such as county lines drug networks, which is also seen in other areas of the country, and other serious organised crime groups.

“The majority of knife crimes in Dorset involve a relationship between the victim and suspect – stranger incidents are still rare.”

Nationally, there were more than 37,000 recorded knife crimes across England and Wales between October 2016 and September 2017, a 44 per cent increase on the same period in 2012-13. Over a third of those crimes took place in London.

The largest increases were seen in predominantly rural areas, with recorded knife crimes in North Wales, Wiltshire and Hertfordshire more than tripling.