HUNDREDS of victims of violent knife crime in Oxfordshire have sought help at the county’s emergency rooms over the last four years, new figures reveal.

More than 430 people needed medical help as the result of a stabbing or knife wound between 2015 and 2018, with concerns in the city growing over knife violence linked to drugs and gangs.

However, experts say the statistics are just the tip of the iceberg, warning a ‘whole generation could be lost’ if the issue of knife crime is not tackled.

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Figures from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust show in total 434 people sought medical help at one of the county’s emergency rooms between 2015-18, with the large majority (357) being male.

The number equates to two people each week on average needing treatment for knife wounds.

However, Oxford city councillor, Tom Hayes, said the true scale of knife crime in the city is far worse than the figures indicate with the stats only showing those in the ‘worst case scenario’.

Mr Hayes, the council’s executive board member for a Safer and Greener Environment, said: “They are the figures for people who have got as far down the road as they can go – these people are in the worst-case scenario in that they’ve been attacked and need medical help.

“There are a significant number of people who are not being stabbed but are at risk of knife crime purely because of the number of people carrying knives is rising.

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“Anecdotally there are a lot of people carrying knives because they are concerned about their own safety and their own wellbeing.”

The new figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, show there were 110 people treated for stab wounds in 2015; 118 in 2016; 110 in 2017 and then 96 in 2018.

According to Thames Valley Police there was a stark increase in offences involving violence with injury last year, with 1,370 incidents recorded in 2018, compared to 1,155 the year before - a 18.6 per cent increase.

There have been a number of stabbings in Oxford recently, including an incident in March where a woman was seriously injured outside a supermarket in Headington, and another where a young man was killed in Southfield Road, east Oxford, just two weeks before.

Also, in March, Oxford judge Peter Ross warned of a ‘complete storm’ of knife crime after jailing a 16-year-old for brutally slashing a man with a 12inch knife in Cowley. While in the same week a gang of men were convicted after stabbing a man in his 30s in a Blackbird Leys Park.

Mr Hayes said authorities were working to reduce the number of young people in particular feeling the need to arm themselves with deadly weapons, including a new youth outreach programme funded by £50,000 from the police and crime commissioner to help engage with youngsters in the community.

The new drug task force, a partnership between Thames Valley Police, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, has also worked to reduce drug and violent crime in the city.

He added: “We are at risk of losing a whole generation of young people to a wide range of social ills of which drug dealing, drug carrying and drug taking is one, and knife crime is the another.

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“It’s a growing problem, anecdotally I know more people are carrying knives because they want to feel safe, not just from people in their own age group, but also from people who want to exploit them.

“We are seeing an upsurge in young people involved in the drugs trade nationally as well as locally because of a reduction in police numbers.”

Earlier this year Thames Valley Police's head of major crime Detective Superintendent Ian Hunter called for increased use to of stop and search powers.

Speaking in January he said: "Clearly it's about education but policing has a role to play in that as well.

"This may include an increase in stop and search which of course is sometimes an emotive issue for some.

"But properly targeted and professionally delivered, it can remove knives from public places and can help to disrupt those intent on causing harm."