THE number of children caught with a knife by police officers has decreased in six years, new figures show. 

Last year there were 39 under 18s caught in possession with a knife in Dorset compared to 49 in 2018. 

Figures obtained by a Freedom of Information (FOI) show in 2019, 47 youths were found with a knife, 53 in 2020, 63 in 2021 and 34 in 2022. 

Meanwhile, Ministry of Justice figures show 126 first-time knife crime offenders in Dorset went through the criminal justice system in the year ending September 2023. 

Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust, said the high rate of first-time offenders reflects a need for "urgent action and a shift in focus". 

He added: "While all knife crime is unacceptable, the high proportion of first-time offenders is a red flag. 

“It exposes a cycle where people are often drawn into violence and face potentially life-altering consequences. 

"This is not just a criminal justice issue, but a societal one demanding a multifaceted response." 

Newly re-elected police and crime commissioner David Sidwick warned youngsters that carrying a knife “does not make you respected or feared, it makes you a target”.