Police always prioritise incidents involving weapons and are working hard to deter young people from carrying knives.

That’s the Cheshire Constabulary response to reports that knife crime among the borough’s young people has increased.

Last week the Chester Chronicle revealed that 58 per cent more children were caught with knives between July 2015 and June 2016 compared to the year before.

The statistics came from the Ministry of Justice after the newspaper put in a Freedom of Information request.

Today (February 1) police have responded with their own figures which show that last year 27 young people aged 10 to 17 were caught with knives.

This is an increase of 11 children from the year before and the highest the number has been in six years.

Superintendent Peter Crowcroft said the majority of the incidents involve possession of a knife and not violent crime.

“Sometimes young people may choose to carry a knife, perhaps as a status symbol or in the belief they need it to protect themselves.

“Carrying a knife is a crime and brings that added risk that a minor issue can be escalated into something much more serious when a knife is involved.”

He revealed that there have been incidents where a number of knives or bladed articles have been taken into schools.

“Thankfully, such crimes are rare in Cheshire and most people will never witness or be affected by knife crime, however even one incident is too many.

“The constabulary has invested in initiatives, which aim to deter young people from carrying knives and highlighting the impact they have.

“We firmly believe that prevention is better than a cure, and do all we can to try and prevent young people from carrying knives.”

Cheshire police work in partnership with schools and colleges to resolve identified problems quickly and prevent future incidents from occurring.

They also actively support Youth Justice, crime prevention programmes and empower schools to manage and resolve issues themselves.

Supt Crowcroft added: “It is really important for the constabulary to encourage reporting of these types of offences, and we actively promote ‘Fearless’ – the young person’s part of the Crimestoppers website.

“This is a fantastic tool which has lots of information about knife crime and practical advice for young people on how they can report their concerns.

“The effect of knife crime can be devastating and those responsible, including young people, should be charged and taken before a court - however consideration will be given to out of court disposals where appropriate and this is a decision we make in conjunction with the Youth Offending Service.

“To ensure our decision making remains legitimate, our out of court disposals are scrutinised by an independent panel of magistrates.

The superintendent stressed that local policing units will always focus on any incident involving weapons.

“The constabulary is committed to prioritising victim care and instilling confidence within our communities,” he said.