The Murder Rate

June 2, 2009

200 words
11 June 2008
The Times
Times2 3
English
(c) 2008 Times Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved

The problem with murder statistics in the UK is that there are so few murders.

In 2005 the murder rate in London soared by a quarter – because of the July 7 bombings. That isn’t a trend: it’s an anomaly. Is London, as some imply, a more dangerous place than it used to be? The Met recorded 159 murders last year (April 2007-08), compared with 180 nine years ago. Fatal stabbings are constant, at around 70 a year.

Only homicides of under-18s have risen. Twice as many were murdered in London last year than in 2006. A similar number of killings looks likely this year. We appear to have, at last, a trend. Yet the increase is from just 15 to 32 – 32 dead teenagers is horrific, but the numerical increase is small. Could some stabbings be linked? If just a few are not independent of each other, we are back dealing with anomalies. When inaction carries such a potentially high cost, though, maybe we can’t wait for the statistics to catch up.

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