If you’re a Londoner, or basically if you generally keep up with the news, you’ll probably have been reading all about the frightening spate of murders in the capital recently. Terrifyingly, there have been 47 murders in London in 2018 alone – and 31 of them were stabbing deaths.
This trend has now led to reports that the murder rate in London has overtaken New York City, with 15 murders in London in February, compared to 14 in New York – even though the American city historically has a higher rate of killings.
In their much-discussed report, The Times goes on to say the total number of London murders has risen by 38% since 2014.
It’s clear that this is an awful situation – especially for the younger, minority Londoners who are more likely to be victims of violent crimes. However, some have suggested that The Times’ report is premature and possibly even misleading.
Patrick Greenfield, who works for The Guardian and CNN, pointed out some potential flaws in the data on Twitter. He said: “Unfortunately, this is yet ANOTHER example of shit data manipulation being passed off as journalism.
“Murders in NYC have fallen from an annual peak of over TWO THOUSAND in 1990 to post-WW2 low of just under 300 in 2017. The story is a dramatic reduction in homicides in New York, NOT chaos in London.
“Random spikes in violent crime happen. We won’t be able to say anything official until the end of the year.”
But Andrew Gilligan, who wrote the original Times story, wasn’t having any of the criticism and hit back, saying: “Some reacting to rise in London murders as they reacted to rise in immigration - fingers in ears, attack the messenger, nothing to see here.
“There has been a dramatic surge in knife crime; that is the main driver, not the falling NYC murder rate.”
The Met police themselves have weighed in, saying that they too are concerned about the increase in killings in London – but insisted that the city is still relatively safe.
A Met spokesperson told The Guardian: “London remains one of the safest cities in the world. The Met is concerned at the increase in murders in London, and specialist detectives from the Met’s homicide and major crime command are investigating.
“One murder is one too many, and we are working hard with our partners to understand the increase and what we can all do to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place.”
Ultimately, it seems that it’s too early to definitively say that London is now a more violent, murderous city than New York - we’ll probably have to wait for more data later in the year to prove that. However, the deaths of young Londoners should concern all of us.
2018 London murders by borough*
Barking and Dagenham – 3
Hackney – 3
Haringey – 3
Newham – 3
Waltham Forest – 3
Camden – 2
Ealing – 2
Greenwich – 2
Hounslow – 2
Lambeth – 2
Wandsworth – 2
Barnet – 1
Bromley – 1
Enfield – 1
Islington – 1
Kensington and Chelsea – 1
Redbridge – 1
Southwark – 1
(*Based on publicly available information.)