LONDON (Reuters) - Robberies involving knives have risen by almost a fifth but firearms offences are sharply down, according to police figures released on Thursday.
There was also a small rise in domestic burglaries over the period covered by the latest statistics for England and Wales published by the Home Office.
Overall there was a 3 percent drop in the number of crimes reported to police in the three months to September 2008 compared to the same quarter the year before.
Robberies involving knives and sharp instruments rose by 18 percent and accounted for more than a fifth of all robbery.
However, the total number of recorded robberies fell slightly, by 3 percent. Domestic burglaries were up by 4 percent.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the government was already taking action to tackle knife crime, targeting known offenders in 10 areas and increasing the number of police stop and searches.
"We are now beginning to see evidence of finding fewer knives, so that is having a deterrent effect," she told Sky News.
"Over the next few months we are going to ... work with retailers, to prevent the sale of knives, particularly to young people, (and) work with community organisations to give young people an alternative to using knives."
There was a 29 percent fall in firearm offences and a 6 percent decline in the level of violence against the person.
Drug offences rose by 9 percent, following an increase in the police's use of powers to issue cannabis warnings.
(Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison)