Crime in London rose five times more than in the rest of the country last year, stark new Government figures revealed today.
The number of homicides in the capital went up by 23 per cent in the year to April, according to Office of National Statistics data.
Killings involving the use of a blade in London also increased from 67 in 2018 to 86 last year – up 28 per cent – as the number of knife crimes across England and Wales rose to a new record high.
The over-arching figure for the total number of offences recorded by Metropolitan Police in the last financial year rose by five per cent in 2018, with robberies and thefts both up by 15 per cent, and drug offences 23 per cent higher.
Nationally, police recorded 5.8 million crimes in England and Wales with the total number of annual homicides increasing by 10 per cent, to 683 from 623.
There were hopeful signs, as the Met recorded a 5 per cent fall in home burglaries, and a 16 per cent drop in possession of weapons suggesting operations to take knives off the streets were having an impact.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, said: “Tackling violence is the number one priority for the Met and we are pleased to see the fall in offences of violence with injury. We are determined to maintain our focus in protecting Londoners and ensuring that our streets are safe.
“Nevertheless, there remains a number of challenges including robbery and theft from a person, where there is still more work to be done. These figures reflect a period before the country entered lockdown and there will be no let-up in our violence suppression work as communities emerge from these restrictions.
“Every member of the Met is committed to protecting Londoners and we will continue to pursue those offenders causing the most serious harm.”
Across England and Wales, knife crime in has risen six per cent to the highest on record, official figures show.
Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument rose to 46,265 for the year to March, the ONS said. This was 51 per cent higher than when data of this kind was first collected in 2011, and is the highest number on record, the report said. The number of offences varied across different regions as the data showed a 7 per cent increase in London but a 10 per cent drop in the number of offences in West Yorkshire.
The report said: “Knife or sharp instrument offences continue to be concentrated in metropolitan areas across England and Wales, with around a third (34 per cent) of all offences recorded by the police in London.”
Knife crime soars to highest level on record in England and Wales
The number of killings in England and Wales involving a knife or sharp instrument also saw an increase of 2 per cent.
According to the ONS figures the rise in homicides was mainly driven by a 28 per cent rise in offences in London (67 to 86) while the rest of the country saw a 7 per cent decrease in the number of homicides involving a knife or sharp instrument.
Overall homicides rose by 10 per cent, but the report noted that the increase includes a single incident in which 39 migrants were found dead in a lorry in Kent. If the major homicide in Kent is excluded from the data, homicides increased by 3 per cent overall.
According to the latest statistics, assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm offences, and robbery, each accounted for 44 per cent of all offences involving a knife or sharp instrument (20,333 and 20,159 respectively).
The ONS report added: “Offences involving knives or sharp instruments have been experiencing a rising trend since the year ending March 2014, although in recent years the rate of increase has slowed.”
Sophie Sanders from ONS Centre for Crime and Justice said: “Overall crime rates were lower in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, than they were in early 2019.
“However, it will not be possible to say whether this would have come to represent a change from the trend in recent years, as the pandemic will have had an impact on the level and types of crime since March.
“In contrast, prior to lockdown, we saw police recorded crime increase. This has been driven, largely, by a rise in high-volume offences including violence without injury, stalking and harassment, and fraud and computer misuse, which, apart from the latter, have been influenced by improvements in recording practices.
“There are also different patterns for specific crimes. For instance, theft from the person increased but burglary decreased.”
The figures do not include Greater Manchester Police, who are unable to provide data due to ongoing problems with a new computer system.
Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he would lead a new Cabinet committee looking at ways to tackle crime.
He also told ministers that every department should consider itself a criminal justice department as part of a drive to look at the “complex causes of crime” which would involve long-term reforms to improve health, social care, youth services and education.