NEW figures have revealed a sharp rise in violent crime in Hampshire - including robberies involving knives.

A total of 162,355 offences were reported in the county last year, according to the latest annual data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures show a 10 per cent rise in offences involving the possession of weapons, a 19 per cent increase in robberies and a 42 per cent jump in stalking and harassment.

Hampshire police also recorded 288 robberies involving knives in 2019 - 20 per cent up on the previous year.

And officers investigated 60 incidents in which someone armed with a knife made threats to kill - a rise of 10 per cent on 2018.

Nationally knife crime in England and Wales hit a record high in 2019, with police forces seeing a 7 per cent increase on the figure for the previous 12 months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to recruit 20,000 extra officers but the scheme is reported to have been delayed by training centres closing as a result of coronavirus.

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, complained that the investment would only return UK policing to pre-2008 levels.

The chairman, John Apter, was formerly head of Hampshire Police Federation.

Responding to the national figures he said: “It is a tragedy that knife crime continues to spiral as my colleagues are stretched to their limits, and with fewer officers on patrol it comes as no surprise that street crime such as robbery has increased.

“The fact that some statistics have fallen despite this is a testament to the hard work and dedication of officers across the country.”

Hampshire police saw a decrease in many types of crime, with the number of thefts dropping by 5 per cent, while other offences rose by only a small percentage.

The total number of crimes reported in the county last year was just 1 per cent up on 2018.

A total of 5,874 sex crimes were committed in Hampshire - also a rise of only 1 per cent on the figure for the previous 12 months.

Police recorded a total of 59,486 crimes involving violence - up 7 per cent on 2018. However, the number of violent crimes resulting in injury - 21,060 - was 2 per cent down on last year.

Hampshire police said they were unable to provide a comment on the ONS figures.