Shocking insight into the UK's knife crime epidemic as teens show off multiple stab wounds

While a recent spate of fatal stabbings have made headlines in London, there are few places in the UK left untouched by the country's knife crime epidemic.

In fact, according to Britain's most senior police officer, violent crime offensives have either increased more steeply in the rest of the country or continue to go up, while in the capital incidences have stablised in recent months.

Gloucester is one such region. The West Country city has seen a 65% increase in knife crime between 2010-2018.

One local 19-year-old showed ITV News West Country his scars after he was stabbed 12 times in a frenzied attack last December, he says, for simply for "being in the wrong place at the wrong time".

A teenager in Gloucester shows ITV News his stab wounds. Credit: ITV News

He said the situation was "more dangerous than it's ever been".

Another said: "It's kill or be killed out here".

Lewis Whitter has grown-up in Gloucester and has tried to help those on the edges of crime. He says too many young people, mainly boys, lack the role models that guided him and are turning to knives instead.

"A few years ago you might hear of an 18 or 19-year-old, a teenager carrying a knife - but now it's real teenagers, it's 14/15-year-olds carrying knives because they feel scared."

Knife crime has been escalating in recent years. Credit: PA

Their experiences were echoed by Britain's most senior police officer Cressia Dick, who told an evidence session of the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday that knife crime was at the "highest and most worrying levels in my service".

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner described the situation as "deeply worrying".

She said: "It's a horrible set of offences, definitely more younger people involved. More knives involved in the serious violence on the street.

"If you look at stabbings of young people I do think this is a new and tragic and worrying phenomenon."

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick giving evidence to Parliament on Tuesday.

Recent Ministry of Justice figures showed the number of criminals caught with knives or dangerous weapons had hit its highest level in nearly a decade.

Questioning Ms Dick and West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson during the evidence session into knife crime, Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope suggested people could protect themselves from knife crime by learning martial arts and getting fitter in the same way that women are taught self-defence.

Sir Christopher said: "One of the ways in which people can be prepared is by, for example, doing judo, taekwondo, being physically able and taught how to deal with a situation where you are threatened with a knife.

"Do you think there is something to be said for actually increasing the encouragement of young people so they don't have to take a knife out, they can protect themselves by actually knowing how to deal with such an incident, were it to arise?"

Mr Thompson replied: "The best knife (crime) prevention technique is to run away as fast as you can, genuinely."

May has rebuffed a link between a fall in frontline police officers and the spike in fatal stabbings. Credit: ITV News

On Sunday morning Ravi Katharkamar, 54, was stabbed in the chest as he opened Marsh Food and Wine in Pinner, north-west London in what police believe was a robbery, the latest victim in what has been described as a "national emergency".

But despite the seemingly never ending grim headlines, there has been a 15% reduction in knife crime on victims under 25 in the year to date and the number of homicides is down.

There were 44 violent deaths in London by March 26 last year, compared with 29 in 2019.

Ravi Katharkamar was stabbed to death while opening his newsagents on Sunday morning.

Theresa May has repeatedly rebuffed a correlation between a fall in frontline police officers and the spike in fatal stabbings. But Ms Dick has joined several senior police offers in disputing the prime minister's assertion, saying there is "obviously" a link to violent crime and cuts to youth services and police numbers.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £100 million cash injection for forces to tackle the problem as part of his Spring Statement in March, whileHome Secretary Sajid Javid also unveiled plans for new knife crime prevention orders.