A HARDCORE of repeat offenders commit nearly a third of knife crime.

More than 5,000 thugs hauled before the courts for carrying a blade last year already had at least one other conviction.

And 728 of them had been caught for the fourth time. Knife killings have reached a ten-year high, with 275 victims last year.

The Ministry of Justice says 17,108 appeared in court for knife offences in 2019, the latest year figures are available for.

And the 5,023 repeat offenders number was up 37 per cent in five years.

Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, who sits on the Commons home affairs committee, said: “These shocking figures tell the story of a Government that has completely lost its grip of the knife crime crisis.

“The current approach is completely failing to deter people from carrying knives and that’s having a devastating impact on people and communities.”

Critics blame “lenient” sentences.

David Spencer of the Centre for Crime Prevention said: “This is proof positive the current sentencing for these crimes is not serving as a deterrent.”

A Government spokesman said: “We are recruiting 20,000 extra police officers, making it easier to use stop and search and ensuring the most serious offenders spend longer in prison.”

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