Homicides fall for first time in five years across UK despite London rise

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LONDON: The number of people killed across the UK fell in 2019 for the first time in five years, BBC research suggests. In total, 650 people were killed in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland last year – down from the 774 homicides in 2018, police figures show.

Despite the drop, homicides in London rose for a third successive calendar year – to the highest level since 2008. It comes a week after the home secretary gave 18 police forces £35m to combat violence.

Throughout 2019, the BBC recorded details of murder and manslaughter investigations launched by the 46 UK police forces. Homicide figures fell for 26 of those forces while five recorded the same figure as in 2018.

In London – one of the areas to see a notable increase and where the number of killings was highest – the Metropolitan Police launched 149 homicide investigations.

The British Transport Police led three murder investigations on the London Underground network and Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were both stabbed to death in the City of London on 29 November. It meant the overall figure for London for 2019 rose to its highest level since 2008, when there were 154 killings.

The Met Police said tackling violence remained a top priority, adding that it had anti-knife crime plans specific to boroughs and aimed to have more than 32,000 officers by summer 2020 – which would represent a 7% increase on the 29,924 officers the Met had in April 2018.

Commander Jane Connors said: “We know that drug dealing is inextricably linked with a high proportion of the violence seen on our streets.”Therefore, we will continue to target those who, for the sole purpose of financial gain, exploit children and target the most vulnerable within our communities”.

According to BBC research, the majority of UK police forces saw a fall in homicides compared with 2018. West Midlands Police said the number fell from 51 in 2018 to 39 last year; while homicides in Greater Manchester were down from 64 to 39.

In Merseyside the homicide level halved, down from 21 to 10, while West Yorkshire Police launched 21 homicide investigations in 2019 compared with 39 in 2018.