Met figures reveal rise in serious crime in London

The Guardian

Thu, May 17, 2018 - Page 6

Serious crime soared in London in the past year, police figures showed, with the murder rate up by 44 percent, and youth murder, personal robbery and home burglary all up by about a third.

The snapshot figures from the Metropolitan Police Service, which show the number of crimes in the year to March, also showed a 23 percent increase in gun crime with discharges, a 21 percent rise in knife crime and an 18 percent increase in the number of rapes.

They were released to coincide with a hearing of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee on Tuesday.

Committee Chairman Steve O’Connell called the rise “unacceptable” and “deeply troubling.”

“Still the figures go the wrong way, and still we’re losing far too many of our young people,” O’Connell said.

Met Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said the force’s new violent crime taskforce had so far recruited 113 of 158 officers.

She also pointed to a large increase in the use of stop and search, with more than 12,000 carried out by Met officers last month.

“What we are very glad to see is that there is a really strong sense of purpose, that the taskforce themselves absolutely want to be doing the work they’re doing,” she said. “And they’re seeing some results; it’s early stages, but it looks as if at the moment the increase in some of those crime types is stabilizing.”

Later on, she said that this meant “the increase [in knife crime] had stopped increasing,” while homicides last month and this month were “considerably below” February and March.

However, she was careful to note that it was too early to hail this as a success.

The rise in violent crime comes despite London Mayor Sadiq Khan publishing a knife crime strategy for the capital in June last year, as well as a number of other initiatives from both local and central government.

So far this year, the Met has launched more than 60 murder investigations, and the increase in violent crime has been reflected in urban areas in many other parts of the nation.

Not all crimes were up. The Met recorded a 9.5 percent drop in antisocial behavior calls, a 3.2 percent drop in incidents of domestic abuse and a 1.4 percent fall in shoplifting.

Several categories of hate crime were down, including disability hate crime dropping by a third, transgender hate crime down 13 percent and antisemitism falling 5 percent.

However, Islamophobic hate crimes were up by almost a third.

London Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Sophie Linden defended her office’s record.

“It’s very, very early days,” she said. “We’re talking about knife crime with injury and we’re seeing that stabilizing.

“But in terms of the murders, every murder is so appalling on the streets of London that there is no complacency here whatsoever, and that’s why the violent crime taskforce is out there all the time focusing on really serious violence,” she said.