On Air Now
Early Breakfast with Lilah Parsons 4am - 6:30am
30 May 2019, 07:08 | Updated: 30 May 2019, 07:10
New figures show nearly two thirds of knifepoint robberies in Essex went unsolved last year.
There were 275 such crimes in the county in 2018.
But in 57 cases, the victim declined or was unable to support action to identity the offender.
In another 116 cases, the investigation was closed without a suspect ever being identified.
The overall number of knifepoint robberies in Essex in 2018 was down from 353 in 2017 though.
Che Donald, national vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "While the number of unsolved knifepoint robberies and other knife crimes appears to be slightly decreasing year on year, according to the Press Association figures, there is no denying that the numbers are uncomfortably high.
"Combined with an 8% overall increase in knife crime across England and Wales, what is blatantly apparent is that our over-stretched and under-funded police forces are battling an explosion in violent crime which shows no sign of abating."
He said that while there were nearly 5,000 hospital admissions due to knife violence in England last year and knife crime is at its highest since 2011, budget cuts mean there are nearly 20,000 fewer police officers than in 2010. There is also a national shortage of detectives.
Mr Donald added: "Our detective ranks have been decimated, with huge gaps in investigation teams across all 43 forces. This means that following up crime reports becomes increasingly difficult, particularly in complex drawn-out investigations.
"Some vulnerable victims of crime need to be dealt with appropriately by specially-trained officers in order for cases to proceed and eventually succeed in court. If we don't have enough specialists to do that, more offenders will then slip through the net."
He said police must be properly resourced to tackle the rising tide of violence.
Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said: "It is deplorable that nearly two third of criminals who use knives to commit robberies are not put in front of the courts.
"While it is clear that the police are doing all they can to tackle this increasing problem with the resources they have available, more needs to be done.
"It is vital that the police get the support and funding they require to take knives and those who carry them off our streets.
"But the police can't do this on their own.
"It is equally important that we do far more to tackle this menace much earlier by resourcing programmes that stop knife carrying becoming a way of life.
"Early intervention and prevention programmes are a proven way to change young people's mindsets and ensure that they take positive pathways in life.
"Turning them away from crime and deterring from ever carrying a knife."