Violent offences such as homicide and knife crime rose in England and Wales last year, official figures show.
Police in England and Wales recorded a 12% rise in homicides and a 16% increase in offences involving knives or sharp instruments up to March 2018.
The number of homicides - murder or manslaughter - recorded by the police showed a fourth consecutive rise following a long-term decline, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the number of police officers in England and Wales was 122,404 at the end of March - the lowest number since comparable records started in 1996.
In the 12 months to March, forces in England and Wales logged a total of 5.5 million offences, a rise of 11% compared with the previous year.
Excluding cases linked to terror attacks and the Hillsborough disaster, the number of recorded homicides increased by 12% year-on-year, from 627 to 701.
Police registered 40,147 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument, a 16% increase on 2016/17 and the highest number since 2010/11.
Admissions to hospital for assaults involving a sharp instrument also increased by 15% for England last year, provisional NHS data reveals.
The figures come after a spate of stabbings in the capital earlier this year.
Caroline Youell, from the ONS, said that most people do not experience crime, adding that the figures show a “fairly stable” picture in England and Wales for most crime types.
Youell added: “There have been increases in some lower-volume “high-harm” offences such as homicide and knife crime, consistent with rises over the past three years. However, the latest rise in gun crime is much smaller than previously seen.”
The ONS data bulletin draws on two main sources – offences recorded by police and the large-scale CSEW, which charts people’s experience of crime.
The ONS figures show there has also been a rise in the number of reports of vehicle-related thefts, burglary offences and robberies.
Last year there were 77,103 robberies, 924,000 vehicle-related thefts and 437,537 burglaries.
Both vehicle offences and burglaries are thought to be generally well-reported by victims and well-recorded by the police.
“Therefore, police recorded increases in these crimes are likely to reflect genuine increases,” the ONS said.
The figures also showed that 48% of investigations into recorded crimes are closed without a suspect being identified – a similar level to last year – while the proportion of offences resulting in a charge or summons fell by 2% points to 9%.
In the year to March, there was a rise of 19%, to nearly 1.4 million, in the number of recorded “violence against the person” crimes – a broad category including murder, assault, harassment and stalking.
Alex Mayes, policy and public affairs adviser for charity Victim Support, said: “It’s truly shocking to see these rises in homicides and violent crime such as knife crime.
“While overall crime levels are generally stable, these increases in some high harm crimes are concerning.
“Too many lives are being shattered by these violent crimes.”