Homicide cases have reached a 10-year high across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, new figures have revealed.

The stats, published by the Office for National Statistics, recorded 20 deaths across the Northumbria Police area because of a homicide incident in the year to March – up from 14 the year before.

Nationally, the number of victims fell by 14 per cent from 684 to 590, with 10.2 homicides logged per million people.

While the figures show a rise in recent years, the Northumbria Police force area is the sixth largest force in England and Wales, covering a widely populated area spanning from Tyneside and Wearside, to Northumberland and the Scottish border.

Amber Detective Superintendent Jane Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police’s Major Investigation Team, told the Hexham Courant: “It is a real tragedy whenever a life is lost in our communities as a result of serious violence.

“While incidents of this nature are few and far between, we will look to do everything we can to bring offenders before the courts, and seek justice for victims and their loved ones.

“However, it’s important to note that tackling serious violence in our communities goes beyond just policing – we all have a role to play in this.

“We carry out a wide range of engagement activity with our partners with the aim of preventing this type of behaviour in the future.

“For example, we work closely with the Violence Reduction Unit which looks to divert people, including young people, away from serious criminality in the future.

“As a Force, we will continue to take robust action against violent offenders across the region and keep our communities safe.”

A Home Office spokesperson added: "Everybody has the right to be safe in their neighbourhoods and communities and we are pleased to see overall homicides down year on year by 14 per cent, but we are not complacent.

"Differences in rates between ethnic groups are likely to reflect a range of factors, including differing age profiles, geographical distributions and socioeconomic differences.

"Our programme of activity and interventions, such as Violence Reduction Units, are targeted in hot-spot areas based on the prevalence of crime and are designed to help address homicide and drug misuse among other crimes."