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  1. ITV Report

As violent crime spikes by nearly a fifth in one year, is stop and search the solution?

ITV News accompanied Merseyside Police's Matrix unit to see the effectiveness of stop and search. Photo: ITV News

Homicides have increased by 14% in a year while offences involving a knife are up by 8%, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Official data shows there were 90 more homicides recorded by the police in the year to September 2018, excluding victims of terror attacks, with the total number up from 649 to 739.

Statisticians said this continues an upward trend since March 2014, indicating a change to the long-term decrease over the previous decade.

ITV News National Editor Allegra Stratton spent time on patrol with Merseyside Police who believe stop and search could be the solution to reducing violent crime.

  • Watch Allegra's report below

Over two nights of stop and searches accompanying Merseyside Police's Matrix unit - a team of officers dedicated to targeting gun, gang and organised crime - ITV News saw 21 stop and searches which led to five arrests, four fines and one caution.

Chief Constable Andy Cooke of Merseyside Police believes it is "the single greatest power that policing has."

"We should being do more of it, not less."

The biggest criticism of stop and search is the effect on different communities - around the country black people are eight times more likely to be stopped than white people.

In Liverpool, this figure is three times as likely.

To avoid this discrimination, Chief Con Andy Cooke says it "needs to be used with consent of your communities."

"It needs to be fully explained why you're doing it, which is why officers here - when they do stop and search - wear body cameras to record the stop and search, to record that discussion and that transaction between the person who is being searched and the officers themselves. That is really important."

The data published on Thursday shows overall crime rose by 7% nationally, with a total of 5,723,182 offences recorded.

Crimes involving violence against the person are up by 19%, which includes a 41% increase in stalking and harassment offences.

Commenting on the figures, Helen Ross, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “In recent decades we’ve seen the overall level of crime falling, but in the last year, it remained level.

7%
The overall rise in crime in the year to September 2018.
5.7m
The number of offences recorded in the year to September 2018.

"There are variations within this overall figure, depending on the type of crime.

“Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery are rising.

“We have also seen increases in some types of ‘lower-volume, high-harm’ violence including offences involving knives or sharp instruments.”