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Crime in London, as in various cities, is very hard to measure. Police figures generally understate crime substantially and can be extremely misleading. Accordingly, recorded crime statistics need to be treated with great caution and have sometimes been shown to show opposite trends to victim surveys or to violence as measured by hospital intake. However, police figures are usually the only available way to gauge local crime.
Some newspapers, amplified in social media, reported murders in London exceeded those in New York (a city with the same population) for the first time in February 2018. However, the month was an exception. New York has always had a much higher murder rate.. New York recorded 57 murders during January through March 2018 whereas London recorded 45. More recent data shows that, between January and June 2018, New York's 141 homicides was nearly twice that of London's 80 homicides. Further, using annual statistics for 2017, New York has a significantly higher homicide rate than London, with New York recording 3.4 homicides per 100,000 people whereas London recorded 1.2. More significantly, London's murder rate in 2017 is still well below the peak in 2003. New York is also one of the safest big cities in the U.S., which makes London's figures look even lower when compared to the average US city.
Greater London is generally served by three police forces; the Metropolitan Police which is responsible for policing the vast majority of the capital, the City of London Police which is responsible for The Square Mile of the City of London, and the British Transport Police which polices the national rail network and the London Underground.
A fourth police force in London, the Ministry of Defence Police, do not generally become involved with policing the general public. London also has a number of small constabularies for policing parks. Within the Home Office crime statistic publications Greater London is referred to as the London Region.
Recorded crime rates in the UK include threats and cases where no physical violence was used so are hard to compare with international statistics, and because even large-scale victim surveys are national rather than local the only available breakdown by borough is from recorded crime, largely calls for service from the police which do not necessarily reflect underlying levels of crime.
According to a London Assembly report, hate crime has increased significantly in London since the last year. Over 19,000 hate crimes were recorded in the capital in 2018, with an average of more than 52 per day.
Until the late 1990s crime figures for varying crime types were not released to the general public at individual police force level. The annual publication 'Crime in England & Wales' produced by the Home Office began to break the figures down to a smaller area in 1996. Crime figures in England & Wales during the late 1990s and early 2000s were often misinterpreted in the media and scrutinised because of frequent changes in the way crimes were counted and recorded that lead to rises in the crime category 'Violence Against the Person'.
Commenting on figures from 1 April 1998 onwards, the then-Home Secretary Jack Straw said "changes in the way crime statistics are compiled are in line with recommendations by senior police officers. They are intended to give a more accurate picture of the level of offences". The largest increases were recorded in the "Violence Against the Person" category owing to the inclusion of common assault figures to accompany other offence types within this category that include assault occasioning actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, harassment, murder, possession of offensive weapons and a selection of other low volume violent crimes grouped together by the Metropolitan Police as 'other violence'.
The change in counting rules, and the significant impact it had on violence against the person figures, was often misconstrued by the media as real increases. The rises in violence resulting from this were highly publicised on an annual basis.
Today crime figures are made available nationally at Local Authority and Ward level. The Metropolitan Police have made detailed crime figures, broken down by category at borough and ward level, available on their website since 2000. Many websites and applications took advantage of this data to build crime maps of London's neighbourhoods.
A detailed breakdown of the way crimes are counted are available from the Home Office website. Recorded crime increased in England and Wales during most of the 1980s, reaching a peak in 1992, and then fell each year until 1998/99 when the changes in the Counting Rules resulted in an increase in recorded offences. This was followed by the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in April 2002 which led to a rise in recording in 2002/03 and 2003/04, as the rules bedded-in within forces. Crime figures were originally collected to cover a calendar year, however this changed from 1998 when crime statistics began to be collated and grouped by financial year.
Offences categorised as "violent crime" by the Home Office are violence against the person, including robbery and sexual offences. Sometimes includes kidnapping. It was announced in September 2018 that the city planned to emulate Scotland's public health approach, inspired by Cure Violence in Chicago, to violent crime. This saw the murder rate in Glasgow drop by more than a half between 2004 and 2017. Sadiq Khan has announced funding of £500,000 for a Violence Reduction Unit, though this has been criticised as insufficient.
Between 1990 and 2003 the number of homicides - i.e. murder, manslaughter, etc. - in London averaged 173 per year, with a low of 139 in 1996, and a high of 204 in 2003. The number then fell in each and every year between 2004 and 2014 to a new low of 83. They then rose sharply to 118 in 2015, followed by a fall to 110 in 2016. In 2017 there was a further rise to 131, although this included the combined 14 victims of the Westminster Bridge (5), London Bridge (8), and Finsbury Park (1) terrorist attacks, but even with these major events was still lower than any year between 1990 and 2009. As of 31 December 2018, there have been 132 homicides reported in London in 2018.
The distribution of homicide offences in London can vary significantly by borough. Between 2000 and 2015 there were 2,326 offences committed in London. The murder rate increased 25.5% in between 2014 and 2015. Albeit, the 2015 total is still lower than most recent years prior, and the increase came from a relatively low count in 2014.
|Rank||Borough||Number of homicides 2000 to 2012|
|20||Hammersmith and Fulham||48|
|22||Barking & Dagenham||42|
|30||Kensington & Chelsea||23|
|31||Kingston upon Thames||17|
|32||Richmond upon Thames||14|
A noted trend since 2014 is robberies and assaults committed by individuals riding mopeds; Crime involving mopeds has gone up by more than 600% in London in the past two years.
Assault with injury
Assault with injury, currently comprising assault occasioning actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm by the Metropolitan Police, accounts for on average 40% of all violence against the person offences within the Metropolitan Police area and 45% of all violence against the person nationally. In England and Wales, 'assault without injury' and harassment account for a further 38% of crimes recorded within the violence against the person category.
In 2008–09, there 70,962 assault with injury offences in London with a rate of 9.5 per 1,000 residents. This was slightly higher than the total rate for England and Wales, which was 7.0 per 1,000 residents.
|ABH and GBH rate per 1,000 London||5.6||5.6||5.6||5.8||9.4||11.2||10.4||9.5||9.5|
|ABH and GBH rate per 1,000 England & Wales||3.6||3.8||6.2||7.6||8.6||9.0||8.4||7.5||7.0|
Following the changes introduced by the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in 2002, the way assaults were categorised was dependent on injury, leading to a significant jump in combined ABH and GBH figures nationally in 2002–03. Prior to NCRS, minor injuries were counted as common assault, while after NCRS any assault with injury would be categorised as ABH. Looking at figures over time is of limited value as figures prior to 2002–03 are not comparable with the way certain violent crimes have been recorded since then. These changes were not reflected in the Metropolitan Police performance figures until 2004/05, when the rate almost doubled to 9.4 per 1,000 residents compared to 5.8 the previous year. In 2005–06, the rate of recorded ABH and GBH peaked both nationally and within the Metropolitan Police force area according to recorded statistics.
The British Crime Survey or BCS is a systematic victim study, currently carried out by BMRB Limited on behalf of the Home Office. The BCS seeks to measure the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking around 50,000 people aged 16 and over, living in private households, about the crimes they have experienced in the last year. The survey is comparable to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted in the United States. The Home Office estimated that just 37% of violence with injury offences were reported to and recorded by police.
An advantage of the BCS is that it has not been affected by the changes in counting rules and the way crime is categorised because it is survey-based. This makes it possible to observe national trends in crime over time. Crime in England and Wales 2008/09, shows BCS violence with injury to have peaked in 1995 and declined steadily since then. Between 1995 and 2008–09, the BCS estimates that violence with injury offences decreased 53.6% across England & Wales.
Gun and knife crime
Weapon-enabled crimes are recorded by the Metropolitan Police when a weapon is used to assist a crime, for example a gun being used as part of a robbery. Recorded gun- and knife-enabled offences in London account for about 2% of total recorded crime. The two London Boroughs with the highest rate of gun and knife crime are Southwark and Lambeth. Other London Boroughs with high gun and knife crime rates include Brent, Haringey and Hackney.[failed verification] Gun-enabled crime figures are displayed on the Metropolitan Police website at borough level expressed as financial year to date comparisons but they are seldom made available for historical comparisons. Figures are available for calendar years 2000 to 2007 as shown in the table below.
|Rate per 10,000 London||3.9||4.3||5.3||5.9||5.4||4.9||5.2||4.4||4.6||3.4||4.4|
Since 2000 there has been consistent fluctuations in the number of gun-enabled crimes recorded by the Metropolitan Police which peaked in 2003 when there were 4,444 recorded offences. The lowest number of offences recorded was potentially in 2008 where there were just 1,980 gun-enabled crimes between December 2007 and November 2008, an unusually low figure in comparison to other years. Since then however gun-enabled crime has increased 67% across London with 3,309 offences being recorded in the 12 months to November 2009.
|Rate per 10,000 London||13.7||17.3||16.5||16.4||14.3||16.4||16.8|
Knife-enabled crime figures are available from 2003 to 2007 and more recently monthly knife crime summaries are provided on the Metropolitan Police website showing financial year to date figures. Knife enabled offences increased from 2003 to 2004 and from then on saw annual reductions until 2007. It was not possible to retrieve statistics for 2008 and 2009.
The Metropolitan Police a number of operations that concentrate on knife and gun crime. They include Operation Trident and Trafalgar which deal with fatal and non-fatal shootings across London, Operation Blunt which was initially launched across 12 boroughs in 2004 to tackle knife crime and subsequently rolled out across the forces 32 boroughs in 2005 after early successes. Operation Blunt was re-launched as Operation Blunt II in 2008 with the aim of tackling serious youth violence. In addition to this there is the Specialist Firearms Command formerly known as SO19.
There has been an overall increase of crime rate especially knife stabbings from April 2010 (1093) to November 2018 (1208). Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said that the knife crime offenders will be tagged with tracking GPS devices for a year upon their release from the prison which will record their movements against the location of reported crimes & revert to police with the information.
Recording of robbery offences in England and Wales are sub-divided into Business Robbery (robbery of a business, e.g. a bank robbery) and Personal Robbery (taking an individuals personal belongings with force/threat). Annually business robbery offences in London account for on average 10% of total robbery offences.
|London Robbery Offences||32867||28442||26330||32924||40992||53547||42496||40640||39033||45311||45771||37000||32555||33463||35857|
|Rate per 1,000 London||4.4||3.8||3.5||4.4||5.5||7.1||5.7||5.4||5.2||6.0||6.1||4.9||4.3||4.5||4.4|
Robbery offending across London fell almost 20% between 1996 and 1998 from 32,867 to 26,330 offences. Following changes in counting rules of crimes and the later introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard offences of robbery rose both nationally and within London. In London offences increased by 25% in 1999 compared with 1998. There was a 25% increase between 1999 and 2000/01 and a further 30% increase between 2000/01 and 2001/02 when the robbery rate in London peaked to 7.1 offences per 1,000 population. In March 2002 the government launched the 'Street Crime Initiative' with the aim of reducing robbery in the most affected police forces, including the Metropolitan Police. Nationally the 'Street Crime Initiative' achieved a reduction in robbery of 32% by March 2005. In London during the same period robbery reduced by 27% from 53,547 in 2001/02 to 39,033 in 2004/05. After the initiative had finished robbery offences increased and stayed at a rate of around 6.0 per 1,000 for the next two financial years, however, there has now been a steady annual decline in robbery rates across London since 2006/07.
The increases in robbery were largely attributed to the rise in youth on youth robberies across London with particular focus around schools and transport interchanges and increased usage and ownership of items such as mobile phones, one of the most commonly stolen items. The increases that followed the end of the street crime initiative were thought somewhat to be a result of the increased mobility of young people when the introduction of oyster cards to provide under-16s free travel on London's transport network was introduced.
Race and crime
In June 2010 The Sunday Telegraph, through a Freedom of Information Act request, obtained statistics on accusations of crime broken down by race from the Metropolitan Police Service.[n 1] The figures showed that the majority of males who were accused of violent crimes in 2009–10 were black. Of the recorded 18,091 such accusations against males, 54 percent accused of street crimes were black; for robbery, 59 percent; and for gun crimes, 67 percent. Between April 2005 and January 2006, figures from the Metropolitan Police Service showed that black people accounted for 46 percent of car-crime arrests generated by automatic number plate recognition cameras.
Street crimes include muggings, assault with intent to rob, and snatching property. Black males accounted for 29 percent of the male victims of gun crime and 24 percent of the male victims of knife crime. Similar statistics were recorded for females. On knife crime, 45 percent of suspected female perpetrators were black; for gun crime, 58 percent; and for robberies, 52 percent.
In 2014, the number of bicycles reported stolen to the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police forces came to 17,809. However the true number of bicycle thefts may be much larger as many victims do not report it to the police. According to the British Crime Survey and Transport for London only one in four victims of bicycle thefts actually report the crime.
Metropolitan force comparisons
|Police force||Main city||Homicides||Firearms offences||Violence against
|Sexual offences||Robbery||Burglary (residential)||Theft of and from|
|Northumbria Police (Tyne and Wear)||Newcastle||2.1||5.6||13.9||0.8||0.6||3.6||8.1|
- The figures relate to those 'proceeded against', including those prosecuted in court, whether convicted or acquitted; those issued with a caution, warning or penalty notice; those the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge; and those whose crimes were 'taken into consideration' after a further offence.
- Crime, Nick Ross, Biteback, 2014
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