Published: 00:01, 07 June 2018
| Updated: 20:22, 07 June 2018
By Jenna Dobbs and Lynn Cox
Knife crime in Kent has more than doubled in the past five years, with 1,322 incidents reported in the last financial year.
It is the first time the county has seen cases hit quadruple figures, and mirrors the dramatic increase in stabbings across London.
Almost half of reported cases happened in Kent's northern division, which includes Dartford, Gravesham, Medway and Swale.
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Offences in East Kent made up 36% of last year's incidents, with just 19% of cases taking place in West Kent.
This stark contrast could suggest a link between knife crime in the north division and the area's close proximity to London.
The crime most commonly reported by officers was violence against the person, which made up 60% of reported offences.
The term covers an array of crimes, which can include verbal threats and harassment and physical violence, including murder.
North Kent has also seen the biggest rise in knife crime, with 593 offences reported last year, compared to 233 in 2013.
Other knife crimes included sexual offences, robbery, and public order offences - behaviours alleged to have caused disruption or offence to the general public.
The shocking figures come after The Home Office published its Serious Violence Strategy, which aims to prevent young people becoming drawn into lives of violence.
Restrictions are to be placed on the online sale of knives, and there will be a complete ban on certain weapons.
Chief Insp Tim Cook, of Kent Police, said: "Whilst increases in reports of knife related incidents can look concerning it is important to note that these crimes range from criminal damage or threats being made to grievous bodily harm involving a sharp instrument such as a knife, razor, broken bottle or dart and do not (ALWAYS) result in injury.
"Officers have and continue to take a proactive approach in targeting, arresting and prosecuting people who carry knives or sharp instruments which has played a part in contributing to this increase.
"As a force we regularly take part in Operation Sceptre which has been successful in identifying and arresting those who carry weapons.
"We have worked hard on education and intervention in the last year with officers, Police Community Support Officers and volunteer police cadets regularly visiting schools, colleges and youth clubs to encourage young people to make better life choices.
"We will not become complacent and are committed to tackling knife crime and removing dangerous weapons from our communities.
"We are aware that some people choose to carry a knife under the false belief it will provide protection but in reality it is more likely they will become a victim of knife crime or be arrested and prosecuted by our officers."