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Knife crime across England and Wales rose to record levels last year, figures show.

Police recorded 40,829 offences involving knives or sharp instruments in 2018, up 6% on the year before.

Office for National Statistics data shows cases of murder and manslaughter, excluding terror attacks, increased by 12%. There were 732 killings, up from 655 in 2017 – the highest since 2008.

However, overall levels of crime showed no significant change over the period.

The knife crime figures come amid a national debate on the issue, following a spate of assaults involving young people.

The figures show these offences are continuing to rise and are at their highest level since 2011 – the year that knife crime statistics started to be gathered in a unified way.

However, they also show the rate of increase appears to be slowing. Offences rose 9% in the 12 months to September 2018 and 13% in the 12 months to June 2018.

And the knife crime statistics do not include Greater Manchester Police because of differences in the way the force has been recording offences.

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