Murder Rates Are Higher In London Than In New York For The First Time
What’s the latest?
On Easter Monday, two unrelated shootings took place in London. One killed 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake in Tottenham, while the other left 16-year-old Amaan Shakoor in critical condition in Walthamstow, where he later died from his injuries in hospital on Tuesday evening.
Amaan was said to have been shot in the face by two hooded men outside a Walthamstow leisure centre, and his friend was also stabbed. Damian, a friend of Amaan, told the Daily Mail he believed the attack was because the 16-year-old had ignored warnings from rival gangs to stay off their turf, adding Amaan was a “nice guy” with “a wrong side”.
It’s believed Tanesha was shot as part of a ‘revenge hit’ gone wrong. Witnesses said she was shot “for no reason at all” as she hung out with her friends as part of a drive-by. “The car just pulled up and just started shooting,” a witness said, adding the gunshots sounded “like fireworks” from her house.
The two shootings seem as though they could be the turning point in concerns over rising violent crime rates in London. Shakoor’s death saw the Metropolitan Police launch its 48th murder investigation this year – eight in January, 15 in February, 22 in March and three in April so far.
Why is this so significant?
Last year saw 116 homicides in London – excluding the victims of the Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park terrorist attacks – but if the rates are consistent for the rest of 2018, it looks like it could surpass 180 homicides, which would make the capital’s crime rates their worst since 2005.
In fact, this year has seen London’s murder rate overtake New York’s for the first time. According to a new report, the UK saw more murders in February than the US capital, with March also seeing 22 people murdered in London compared to NYC’s 21. Both cities have a population of around 8.5 million. New York’s homicide rate has decreased by around 87% since the nineties, while London’s has grown by nearly 40% in just three years (excluding terrorist attacks).
On Sunday 1st April, a 20-year-old man who was stabbed moments after leaving a bar in Wandsworth became the 31st victim to die from knife crime in London this year. On Thursday 29th March, the family of 26-year-old Abraham Badru, who was shot in Hackney and died from his injuries just days before, warned “gun culture is becoming rampant in our community”.
And they’re right – Met Police figures do show a rise in gun violence, with 2,544 gun crime offences from April 2016 to April 2017, compared to 1,793 offences in 2015-16. Fears that both victims and perpetrators are getting younger are substantiated by the report, which reveals a third of the victims of gun crime and nearly three in five offenders were aged 25 or under. Gang activity and drugs were identified as the main drivers of gun crime.
What’s being done to help?
Last night Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Wood, in charge of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “Once again this weekend violent crime and the murder of young people on our streets has hit the headlines, and quite rightly. We are concerned about the number of people being killed on our streets, and 2018 has shown the reality that more young people are prepared to turn to more serious violence more quickly. Whilst the reasons for the rise in violence, being seen across the country, are many and complex, the role of the police is clear. The absolute priority for the Met is to bear down on violent crime in all its forms, but especially knife and gang crime. Right now our officers are on the streets and will make more arrests for violence, take more knives off the streets and prevent violence.”
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told the Times that social media is normalising violence and leading to higher crime rates, adding that our favourite platforms make it easier for gangs to “posture”, driving their rivals from “slightly angry [to] fight” in a matter of seconds. As such, she announced a new task force of about 100 officers dedicated to tackling violent crime in London, declaring a more aggressive approach to stop and search procedures in areas particularly prone to violence.
When recently asked whether Prime Minister Theresa May was concerned about the spike in murders in London this year, a Downing Street spokesperson said, “These are all tragic cases and our thoughts are with the families of victims. There can be no place in our society for violent crime. The government is determined to do everything it can to break the cycle. We have already consulted on new laws on offensive and dangerous weapons, including banning online stories from delivering knives to residential addresses and making it an offence to possess certain weapons in private.”
Pressure has also been put on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to tackle gun crime in the capital, and in the wake of the two latest deaths of these young London residents, there’s been no official word from him. He did, however, release an anti-knife crime PSA video via his official Twitter account on 3rd March with the caption: “Our message to every young Londoner across our city – don’t risk your future by carrying a knife. Share this video and help carry a new message - #LondonNeedsYouAlive”.
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