Two-thirds of knife crime offenders in Dyfed and Powys had no previous knife-related convictions or cautions, new figures show.
Anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust said urgent change is needed to address this trend, as it suggests “for some, carrying knives has become normalised behaviour”.
Ministry of Justice figures show 63 first-time knife criminals in Dyfed and Powys went through the criminal justice system in the year ending March 2023.
They account for the majority of all those found guilty of knife and offensive weapon offences.
Of these, only 14 were jailed immediately. Patrick Green, Ben Kinsella Trust chief executive, said this showed the law is not providing a sufficient deterrent and many first-time knife criminals would go on to become serial offenders.
Across England and Wales, the proportion of offenders sent into immediate custody for a knife offence fell from 37% in the year ending March 2020 to 30% this year.
In Dyfed and Powys, offenders were cautioned or sentenced 93 times for knife-related crimes. Of those, 32 were jailed immediately – fewer than in 2019-20, when there were 45.
Dyfed-Powys Police caught children aged under 18 with knives 10 times in 2022-23, a decrease from 15 the year before.
Mr Green said: “One possibility is that young people are feeling increasingly unsafe, and that they are mistakenly carrying knives for protection.
“Protecting our youth and fostering a safe environment for all should be a government priority.”
He added children are also influenced by social media, which “often portrays knives in a glamorised way” and said young people must be provided with the necessary support, education, and opportunities to steer them away from violence.
Of those cautioned or sentenced, 92% were men, up on 87% the year before.
Overall, there were 19,086 knife offences that resulted in a caution or sentence in England and Wales to March this year, which was a slight decrease on last year’s figure of 19,674.