The number of people caught with guns and knives in Mid Sussex has increased by almost 50 per cent, according to the latest police recorded crime statistics.
There were 69 weapons possession offences in the 12 months to September 2018, according to data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). These can include hand guns, knives and even corrosive acid.
That figure is up 44 per cent on 2016-17, when 48 incidents were recorded.
The statistics are based on crimes reported to the police, and the ONS urges caution in interpreting some of these figures.
However, statisticians said that recorded crime figures are reliable for lower volume offences, such as possession of a knife or a gun.
The rise was reflected nationally. Across England and Wales there was an eight per cent increase in offences with knives or sharp objects.
Helen Ross, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “In recent decades we’ve seen the overall level of crime falling, but in the last year, it remained level.
“Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery are rising.
“We have also seen increases in some types of ‘lower-volume, high-harm’ violence including offences involving knives or sharp instruments.”
Overall, police recorded crime in Mid Sussex increased in the 12 months to September 2018.
Over the period, 6,686 crimes were recorded, up by six per cent on 2016-17.
That means there was a rate of 45 crimes per 1,000 residents during 2017-18, below the England and Wales average of 85.
There were 309 residential burglaries reported in Mid Sussex. Due to a change in how the ONS categorises burglaries, the localised figure cannot be compared with other years.
There have been no homicides, which are murders or manslaughters. There was one case of death or injury by dangerous driving.
Across England and Wales, the number of recorded homicides rose by 14 per cent, to the highest level since 2008. These figures excluded people who died in terror attacks.
Theft, one of the most high volume crimes, increased by three per cent. Drugs related offences dropped by seven per cent.
Commenting on the national figures, Chief Constable Bill Skelly, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “Rising crime, increased terrorist activity and fewer police officers have put serious strain on the policing we offer to the public.
“We are determining the additional capabilities and investment we need to drive down violence and catch more criminals – and we will make the case at the next Government Spending Review.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said: “These statistics show that your chance of being a victim of crime remains low, but we recognise that certain crimes – particularly violent crime – have increased, and we are taking action to address this.”
Criminal damage in Mid Sussex, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone up, from 956 incidents in 2016-17, to 990 in the latest figures.
While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, the ONS said this could be due to improved police recording.
Similarly, the ONS said sexual offences are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to a series of high profile cases.
In Mid Sussex, there were 250 incidents recorded between October 2017 and September 2018, a 38 per cent rise on the previous year, when 181 crimes were reported.
There were also 441 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said: “Society just isn’t as safe as it once was, and although the police service is doing everything within its power, we are swimming against the tide.”
• Report by Ralph Blackburn, data reporter