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London’s 2022 murders examined: key figures in the UK capital’s homicides

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In 2022, Greater London witnessed a decline in homicides, with 109 cases, the lowest since 2014. Despite this overall decrease, this report unveils concerning trends: Black individuals were disproportionately represented as both victims and offenders of homicide, accounting for 44.04% of victims and 48.35% of accused. Stabbings were the most prevalent method of killing, representing 64.22% of homicides. The majority of victims (74.31%) and offenders (91.76%) were men, with domestic violence impacting women significantly. Teenagers, primarily victims of stabbings, also emerged as a significant concern. Economic factors played a role, with the highest number of homicides occurring in Brent and Ealing, areas plagued by high unemployment and poverty. The Metropolitan Police’s response includes increased patrols in high-risk areas and youth engagement initiatives. This report calls for the need for tailored interventions to protect women from domestic violence, engage youth, and address economic challenges to reduce homicides effectively. Additionally, disparities in solving rates based on ethnicity, particularly for the “Other” category, suggest a need for further investigation and resource allocation.

INTRODUCTION

On January 6th, 2023, the BBC published a report highlighting a notable decline in the number of homicides in London for 2022, reaching its lowest point since 2014, with 109 recorded cases[1]. This is particularly notable when compared to homicides in London examined by AOAV in previous years which revealed 133 cases in 2021, 131 cases in 2020, and 147 cases in 2019[2][3][4].

Despite some progress however, 2022 witnessed troubling trends that demand attention. Notably, a 2023 Research Briefing by the House of Commons on Homicide Statistics revealed that for the last three years, London has experienced the highest homicide rate in England and Wales, with an alarming average of 15.1 incidents per million people[5].

Furthermore, when it comes to cases of domestic abuse, there has been a concerning increase. According to the Metropolitan Police(MPS), 16 women lost their lives in domestic abuse-related incidents in 2022, marking a rise from 13 cases in 2021, 16 cases in 2020, and 12 cases in 2019[6]. Moreover, 16 teenagers were murdered in London[7]. This level of violence against women and young people is deeply troubling. In response to these concerning developments, AOAV has sought to provide an in-depth examination of the homicides reported in London in 2022. 

METHODOLOGY

We used a combination of statistical data, police reports, news articles, and legal records to analyze homicides in London in 2022, aiming to gain a deeper understanding of the patterns and trends of the city’s reported homicides for that year. Out of the total 109 cases reported, we gathered comprehensive data on a significant number, while a few remained with limited public information. Our findings are broken down into the following sections: key trends, method of killing, demographic trends, location, and legal and judicial response.

KEY FINDINGS

  • 109 people were killed in London in 2022.
  • The most common method of killing was stabbing, accounting for 64.22% of homicides.
  • The racial breakdown of homicide victims was predominantly Black (44.04%) and White (36.70%).
  • Black individuals were overrepresented both as victims and offenders in homicide cases.
  • Men constituted the majority of homicide victims (74.31%) and offenders (91.76%).
  • Domestic violence trends showed a significant impact on women, with most female victims being young and of Asian or Black ethnicity.
  • Teen homicides primarily involved stabbings, with 16 teenage victims in just nine months.
  • The average age of victims varied by race, with Black victims being younger on average.
  • Homicide resolution rates showed no significant racial bias in cases solved.
  • Brent and Ealing had the highest number of homicides, possibly linked to high poverty and unemployment rates in these areas.

METHOD OF KILLING

Of the 109 homicide victims killed in London in 2022 data from the MPS revealed:

  • (64.22%)(70) were stabbed by a Knife or Sharp Implement;
  • (10.09%)(11) were victims of Physical Assault with no weapon;
  • (9.17%)(10) were shot;
  • (7.34%)(8) had a method of killing Not known/Not Recorded;
  • (5.50%)(6) were killed by Other Methods of Killing;
  • (3.67%)(4) were killed by a Blunt Implement;[8]

DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS

Race of the Victims:

The races of the 109 homicide victims, as “observed” by officers, were:

  • 44.04% (48) were Black;
  • 36.70% (40) were White;
  • 16.51% (18) were Asian;
  • 2.75% (3) were Other Ethnicities;

The overrepresentation of Black victims in these homicide statistics suggests that they were at a higher risk of falling victim to homicide compared to individuals from other racial or ethnic groups. In fact, according to the 2023 Research Briefing by the House of Commons, by March 2022 people identified as “Black and Black British” constituted the highest number of homicide victims across the UK[9].

Race of the offenders:

Even though 109 homicides were reported to have taken place in London in 2022, 182 cases received a court charge or summons for murder or manslaughter that year[10]. This discrepancy was likely due to a backlog of cases, lengthy investigation processes, trials involving multiple defendants, appeals, and differences in legal definitions and recording practices.

However, the racial backgrounds of 182 offenders which a court charge was identified as follows:

  • 48.35% (88) were Black;
  •  24.18% (44) were White;
  • 8.24% (15) were Asian;
  • 3.85% (7) were Mixed heritage;
  • 2.75% (5) were Other ethnicities;
  • 10.99% (20) declined to define ethnicity;
  • 1.65% (3) had unrecorded ethnicity;

The predominance of Black offenders (48.35%) compared to other groups suggests possible disparities in crime rates, social conditions, or law enforcement practices across different ethnicities. This data also indicates a considerable number of offenders declining to define their ethnicity (10.99%) and highlights the diversity within the offending population, with notable representations from White, Asian, Mixed heritage, and Other ethnic groups. Understanding these trends is crucial for addressing underlying societal issues and ensuring equitable law enforcement practices.

Gender of the Victims:

  • 74.31%(81) were men
  • 25.69% (28) were women.

Although men constituted most of the homicide victims, the significant number of female victims raises concerns, especially in the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder by ex-police officer Wayne Couzen in 2021. This incident prompted the MPS to launch an action plan in April 2022, with one of its primary aims being to increase protection for “women and girls in public spaces, at home, and online.”[11] 

However, when examining domestic abuse in London, particularly for female victims,16 out of 17 reported cases, involved women, predominantly in the age group of 25 to 34 years old[12]. The prevalent use of knives in these incidents is also deeply troubling, as nearly all cases were classified as murder, highlighting the gravity and intent behind this violence against women.

Gender of the offenders:

Based on the 182 cases prosecuted in 2022, the gender distribution was:

  • 91.76% (167) were men;
  • 7.69% (14) were women;
  • 0.55% (1) unrecorded.

The average age of the Victims:

  • 36.88 for Black victims;
  • 41.22 for White victims;
  • 37.75 for Asian victims;
  • 46.17 for Other;

The average age of victims, by gender, was:

  • 38.4 for female
  • 37.9 for male

The average age of the offenders:

The average age of those charged with murder or manslaughter in 2022, by race, was:

  • 25.35 for Black offenders;
  • 31.16 for White offenders;
  • 28.67 for Asian offenders;
  • 24.14 for Mixed offenders;
  • 23.67 for offenders with unrecorded ethnicity;
  • 22.00 for Other offenders;
  • 27.00 for those who declined to define ethnicity[13].

This trend of young individuals being convicted of murder or manslaughter is concerning as it signals that there is a high percentage of youth involved in serious crimes. This in turn sheds light on broader societal issues like inadequate access to education, employment opportunities, and mental health services. Moreover, variations in age across different ethnic groups underscore the necessity for tailored solutions to tackle these challenges.

LEGAL AND JUDICIAL RESPONSE

The data provided by the MPS shows that out of a total of 109 reported homicides in London in 2022, 89 were solved while 20 remain unsolved.

In terms of race, of the 20 unsolved killings:

  • 11.11% (2) were Asian;
  • 16.67% (8) were Black;
  • 66.67% (2) were Other;
  • 20.00% (8) were White;

In terms of the method of Killing in 20 unsolved cases:

  • 40% (8) were stabbed
  • 30% (6) were shot
  • 10% (2) involved physical assault, no weapon
  • 10% (2) methods not known/not recorded:
  • 5% (1) involved a blunt Implement:
  • 5% (1) killed by other means.

In terms of the gender in unsolved cases:

Male: 18 cases

Female: 2 cases

In terms of the average age in unsolved cases:

  • The most common age group among the victims was 25 to 34.

Overall, this data indicates a pattern where certain racial groups, particularly Black individuals, are overrepresented in unsolved murders. The methods of killing are predominantly stabbings and shootings, with shootings being disproportionately unsolved. There’s a significant gender imbalance with a higher number of male victims in unsolved cases, and young adults (age 25-34) are notably affected.

Police Action:

In response to this year’s reported homicides, the MPS claim to be taking several actions. For example, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has stated that part of their focus is on suppressing violence by “arresting the most dangerous people” and increasing patrols in high-risk areas[14]. They are also engaging youth through initiatives like the Box Up Crime gym in Ilford, aiming to steer young people away from crime.

LOCATION

A full breakdown of the location of all killings can be found here[15]. The highest number of homicides occurred in Brent and Ealing, with each reporting 9 cases. Following closely are Redbridge and Newham, each with 7 homicides.

Locations of unsolved killings in 2022:

In terms of location, the most common Boroughs where murders were found to be unsolved were Westminster, with 3 murders. This was followed by several boroughs with 2 unsolved murders each, including Lambeth, Brent, Ealing, Redbridge, Newham, and Kensington & Chelsea. Additionally, there were singular unsolved murder cases in Kingston Upon Thames, Hounslow, Greenwich, Bexley, and Waltham Forest.

  • In 2022, Brent, Ealing, and Newham were among the London boroughs most severely impacted by unemployment and child poverty rates [16].
  • The poverty levels in most of these areas were notably high, averaging 43% in Westminster, 35% for Newham, 34% in Ealing, 32% in Brent, 29% in Kensington & Chelsea,  28% in Lambeth, 27% in Redbridge, 26% in Bexley, 23% in Waltham Forest, 22% in Kingston Upon Thames, and 21% in Greenwich, in the 2021/2022 period[17].

These economic challenges, particularly high unemployment, and significant poverty rates, might be contributing factors to the prevalence of violent crimes, including homicides, in these boroughs. 

CONCLUSION

In summary, this report has examined both positive and concerning trends. While overall homicides have decreased and fatalities from shootings have gone down, troubling issues persist. These include the overrepresentation of Black individuals in both victim and perpetrator roles, a rise in domestic abuse-related incidents, and a high number of teenage homicides.

The report underscores the need for focused responses, such as measures to protect women from domestic violence, youth engagement programs, and tailored approaches to address the root causes of youth involvement in serious crimes. It also highlights disparities in solving rates based on ethnicity, particularly for Black individuals, requiring further investigation and resource allocation. The correlation between high unemployment and poverty rates in certain boroughs and violent crimes emphasizes the importance of addressing economic challenges as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce homicides in London. In this regard, sustained efforts and community collaboration are essential to effectively address the complex factors contributing to homicides in the city.

REFERENCES

[1] [14-p.1] Met Police: London homicide figures fall in 2022; BBC News; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-64183759

[2] London’s 2019 murders examined: key figures in the UK capital’s homicides; AOAV; https://aoav.org.uk/2023/london-murder-capital-a-year-of-violent-deaths-examined/

[3]London’s 2020 murders examined: key figures in the UK capital’s homicides; AOAV; https://aoav.org.uk/2023/london-2020-murder-capital-a-year-of-violent-deaths-examined/

[4]London’s 2021 murders examined: key figures in the UK capital’s homicides; AOAV; https://aoav.org.uk/2023/londons-murders-examined-key-figures-in-the-uk-capitals-homicides/

[5] [9-p.6] Homicide Statistics; UK House of Commons Libary Research Briefings; https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8224/

[6] [8] [12] [13][15] London Homicide Victim 2003 – June 2023; Metropolitan Police; https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQMQV-1QXOdJB6jiYOc-VZgnnZyYpZ6b326-y-10-Vn9tgUPpx_u4xOSDSFE1csh2DpRa5AxgZ3-ZIo/pub?output=xlsx

[7]The harrowing names and faces of 16 London teens murdered in just 9 months as grim figure surpasses 2022 total; MyLondon; https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/london-records-16-teen-murders-27793772

[11- p.8]  Violence against women and girls action plan; Metropolitan Police; https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/downloads/met/about-us/violence-against-women-girls-action-plan.pdf

[13] Homicide Proceeding 2003 – June 2023; Metropolitan Police; https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vSNPanDjwsAsnEwHSYEgtpPxTYZFqbrfrooyQpZ4MOAWULLh6tcSK5nONtjZe4ZS_6nT0uCq7phoACn/pubhtml

[16]The London borough where more than half of children are living in poverty; MyLondon; https://www.mylondon.news/news/east-london-news/london-borough-more-half-children-22834425 

[17] Poverty Rates by London Borough; Trust for London; https://trustforlondon.org.uk/data/poverty-borough/