RNA - The Metropolitan police recorded 149 homicides in 2019 up to 30 December. In five years the homicide rate has increased by more than 50%, from 94 cases in 2014, The Guardian reported.
Despite the introduction of a raft of measures to tackle the problem, the 2019 total was up 10% on the 135 homicides recorded in 2018, and the rise was concentrated in the poorest areas.
Figures for the rest of the country are not yet available but the second biggest force, West Midlands police, reported a fall from 51 murders in 2018 to 39 in 2019. Of those 39, 19 were stabbings and three were shootings.
Greater Manchester police, the third biggest force in England and Wales, said it could not provide homicide statistics.
Figures from the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) reveal longer-term trends in the capital. Shooting deaths in London totalled four in 2014, rose to 15 in 2018 and fell back to 12 in 2019.
Fatal stabbings numbered 55 in 2014 and have gone steadily up, reaching 90 in 2019, according to Met figures.
Thirty-nine people aged under 25 were killed in 2014, 66 in 2017 and 46 last year.
Killings linked to gang violence have more than doubled in the last five years, from 17 in 2014 to 44 in 2018 and 42 in 2019.
The youngest victim of gang-related drug violence this year was Jaden Moodie, 14, stabbed nine times by a member of a rival drug gang in East London in January.
Ben Bradford, a professor of global city policing at University College London, who is working with the Met and MOPAC, said drugs, austerity and a rise in violence in youth cultures were key factors.
“The top two or three explanations have something to do with [firstly] trends in the drugs market – there has been an increase in competition. There is definitely something going on around 10 years of austerity. It can’t be a coincidence that the generation of boys who were eight, nine or 10 in 2010 is coming to fruition after cuts,” he stated.
“There is a group of young people who are just more ready to use knives then they would’ve been in the past. There is anecdotal evidence of people carrying to protect themselves. We need to look at the demographic of the individuals and the areas they come from. It is telling that certain parts of London, certain neighbourhoods, have been more prone to violence. They are poor, neglected and left behind,” Bradford added.
London disproportionately shapes the national debate about crime. As violent crime increased, law and order increased in importance for voters, with the Conservatives promising to halt and then reverse the big cuts they inflicted on police numbers and budgets. Furthermore, as youth services were cut, school exclusions increased.
Bradford also pointed to the increasing number of young males – the group most likely to offend – in London.
“The population of London is very young. There is a bulge, an increase, in the young population,” he said.
Bradford added, “The problems we are talking about do not have a policing solution. Policing is quite good at keeping the lid on problems, but it can’t provide long-term solutions. That lies with health, education and social services and they have to provide the long-term solutions.”
Numbers from MOPAC shows a peak of 216 homicides in 2003. Since 2008 the figure has not risen above 155 in a calendar year.
New York City, which has a similarly sized population to London and a larger police force, has double the number of homicides, reaching more than 300 in 2019 by late December.
Violent crime in London is likely to be a big issue in the mayoral election in 2020, and the Conservatives will try to attack the record of the Labour incumbent, Sadiq Khan, who is seeking a second term.
Susan Hall, the leader of the Conservatives in the London assembly, said, “London deserves a mayor who will act to keep our city safe and prioritise Londoners’ safety above all else.”
The Met said more officers coming on stream would help, and it planned further initiatives to tackle violence.
“The Met is growing and we are on track to reach 32,000 officers by late summer 2020. As these new officers join our ranks, we will be able to have more impact and begin to reverse some of the challenges the service has experienced,” a spokesperson stated.
“We know that drug-dealing is inextricably linked with a high proportion of the violence seen on our streets. Therefore, we will continue to target those who exploit children and target the most vulnerable within our communities,” the spokesperson added.
Homicides from domestic violence reached 23 in 2019, up from 18 in 2014 but below the peak of 31 deaths in 2015.
Street homicides numbered 89, up from 72 the previous year. Those in people’s homes were down to 41, from 58 in 2018.