More than 100 offenders jailed every week for knife possession

The number of criminals jailed after being caught with knives has soared Credit: PA

The number of criminals jailed after being caught with knives has soared as sentences get stricter, new figures show.

In three months to June, more than 1,300 knife offenders were given immediate custodial terms - meaning they are being put behind bars at a rate of more than 100 every week.

At the end of June there were 546 inmates serving sentences for possession of an offensive weapon - a rise of 40% compared with a year earlier.

The sharp increase represents a reversal in the recent pattern which has generally seen the number of prisoners in custody for the charge falling since early 2009.

The Ministry of Justice data comes after stricter penalties were introduced for knife criminals, including measures to reduce the use of police cautions.

The next set of data is likely to show the number sent to prison has gone up further still because of the introduction in July of a "two strikes" regime, meaning those convicted of possessing a knife more than once face a minimum sentence of six months.