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London: murder capital

London’s 2023 murders examined: key figures in the UK capital’s homicides

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report presents a detailed analysis of the estimated 103 homicides that occurred in Greater London in 2023, marked by a concerning trend in violent crimes. Stabbings emerged as the predominant method of killing, accounting for over 60% of cases. The report underscores the disproportionate involvement of Black individuals as both victims and offenders and the notable presence of male victims and offenders. This report also reveals significant differences in the average age of offenders by race. The geographical focus shows Croydon, Hounslow, and Lambeth as hotspots for such incidents. Most cases are awaiting trial, highlighting the burden on the judicial system. This report calls for multifaceted strategies, integrating law enforcement, community initiatives, and socio-economic interventions to address the complex dynamics of violence in London.

INTRODUCTION

London faced a “grim” start to 2023, as MyLondon reported a series of violent incidents that shook the city[1]. Tragically, a woman was stabbed to death in West London, and another woman, missing for over a month, is feared to have met a similar fate. Adding to the city’s woes, two separate stabbings left one teenager critically wounded and another with severe injuries[2].

In May, the Guardian shed light on the alarming pace of violence in London, noting that three murders occurred in just over eight hours[3]. This unsettling trend was further confirmed by Metropolitan Police(MPS) data, which showed a disturbing rise in violence from January to June 2023, with 53 homicides[4].

In an August interview with the Standard, Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Cochlin voiced concern over the increasing brutality of murders in London[5]. In this regard, the Standard’s report painted a bleak picture, estimating that the year’s murder count would reach between 110 and 115, based on the 65 murders recorded at the time[6].

The latest figures from the Murdermap project, covering January 2nd, 2023 to December 31st, 2023, estimated a total of 103 homicides in London, a number that sadly includes the recent death of Harry Pitman, a 16-year-old teenager who was fatally stabbed on Primrose Hill in Camden shortly before midnight on December 31st. While the total number of homicides for 2023 is lower than the figures estimated by the Standard as well as those examined by AOAV in previous years, this figure represents some concerning trends, which this report has sought to examine in-depth[7][8].

METHODOLOGY

Our research on London homicides in 2023 involved using statistical data, police reports, news articles, and legal records. The aim was to understand better the trends and patterns in the 103 homicides reported this year. We’ve organized our findings into sections on key trends, methods of killing, demographic trends, locations, and legal and judicial responses. However, it should be noted that key demographic data such as the race of the victims was only available for 53 homicides recorded by the MPS. As such, this discrepancy will be noted throughout this report’s findings.

KEY FINDINGS

  • In 2023 so far, there were 103 homicides reported in London.
  • Stabbing was the most common method of killing, accounting for 65.05% of these homicides.
  • The racial distribution of homicide victims predominantly included 43.40% White and 35.85% Black individuals.
  • Black offenders were notably overrepresented at 40.52% in homicide cases.
  • Males constituted 81.55% of victims and 93.10% of offenders.
  • The average age of offenders varied significantly by race, with Asian killers being the oldest at 43.67 years.
  • A majority of homicide cases(73) are still awaiting trial, highlighting ongoing judicial processes.
  • Croydon, Hounslow, and Lambeth were the most affected boroughs, indicating localized spikes in violence.

METHOD OF KILLING

Based on a total of 103 homicides reported by Murdermap in 2023:

  • (65.05%)(67) were stabbed;
  • (10.68%)(11) were killed with no weapon;
  • (8.74%)(9) were killed by unknown means;
  • (7.77%)(8) were shot;
  • (7.77%)(8) were killed by other means.

DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS

Race of the Victims:

The 53 homicides where the race of the victims was  “observed” by MPS officers from January until June 2023, were:

  • 43.40% (23) were White;
  • 35.85% (19) were Black;
  • 18.87% (10) were Asian;
  • 1.89% (1) were Other Ethnicities.

In comparison with 2022, where 44.04% of homicide victims were Black and 36.70% were White, 2023 shows a shift with 43.40% White victims and 35.85% Black. The percentage of Asian victims also increased from 16.51% in 2022 to 18.87% in 2023.

Additionally, the total number of homicides decreased significantly from 109 in 2022 to 103 in 2023. This change is interesting as it may reflect shifting social dynamics, crime patterns, or policing efforts in the community, warranting further investigation into underlying causes.

Race of the Offenders:

While 103 homicides have been recorded by Murdermap in London so far for 2023, MPS data shows that there were 116 cases where individuals were summoned to court for charges of murder or manslaughter[9].

This gap can be attributed to a range of factors such as a buildup of unresolved cases, extended investigative procedures, multiple defendants being involved in single cases, retrials or appeals, and variances in the categorization and recording of legal terms.

Regarding the race of the 116 offenders, the distribution is as follows:

  • 40.52% (47) were Black;
  • 20.69% (24) declined to define ethnicity;
  • 18.10% (21) were White;
  • 6.90% (8) were Asian;
  • 5.17% (6) had ethnicity not recorded;
  • 4.31% (5)were of there ethnicities;
  • 4.31% (5) were mixed heritage;

The high percentage of Black offenders (40.52%) is significant as it points to potential social or systemic disparities that are likely linked to poverty.

Gender of the Victims:

Out of the 103 homicides reported for 2023:

  • 81.55%(84) were Male
  • 18.45%(19) were Female

Gender of the Offenders:

MPS data shows that out of the 116 cases:

  • 93.10%(108) were Male
  • 6.03% (7) were Female

The average age of the Victims:

For 53 homicides where the data on the race of the victims was available:

  • 35.7 for Asian victims;
  • 34 for Black victims;
  • 36.3 for White victims;
  • There was no data available for victims identified as “Other”;
  •  

The average age of the 103 victims, by gender, was:

  • 33.56 years for Male
  • 38.94 years for Female

The average age of the Offenders:

The average age of 116 offenders accused of murder or manslaughter in 2023, by race, was:

  • 43.67 for Asian offenders;
  • 39.22 for Black offenders;
  • 27.00 for Mixed offenders;
  • 30.33 for Other offenders;
  • 34.00 for offenders who declined to define ethnicity;
  • 33.25 for offenders with unrecorded ethnicity;
  • 37.00 for White offenders.

This data reveals significant variations in the average ages of offenders. With Asian offenders being the oldest group at an average of 43.67 years and Mixed-race offenders the youngest at 27.00 years, it highlights different crime involvement trends among racial groups.

The notably young ages for Mixed, Other, and White killers emphasize the troubling trend of younger individuals engaging in severe crimes. This points to the need for specific social and criminal justice strategies tailored to the distinct factors influencing these age and racial groups.

LEGAL AND JUDICIAL RESPONSE

According to Murdermap, out of 103 homicides reported in 2023, only 5 have been solved, 73 are awaiting trial, 6 suspects are dead, and 19 remain unsolved.

In terms of the method of killing the 19 unsolved cases:

  • 68.42% (13) were stabbed;
  • 15.79% (3) involved no weapon;
  • 10.53% (2) were shot;
  • 5.26% (1) killed by other means;

In terms of the gender of victims in the 19 unsolved cases:

  • 89.47% (17) were Men
  • 10.53% (2) were Women

In terms of the average age of victims in the 19 unsolved Cases:

  • The estimated average age of victims in unsolved cases was approximately 32.32 years

However, MPS data shows that out of the 53 homicides reported until the end of June 2023, 42 were solved and 11 remain unsolved.

In terms of race, of the 11 unsolved killings:

  • 18.2% (2) were Black;
  • 63.6% (7) were White;
  • 18.2% (2) were Asian;

In terms of the method of killing in the 11 unsolved cases:

  • 54.55% (6) were stabbed; 
  • 18.18% (2) method is not known/not recorded;
  • 9.09% (1) involved physical assault;
  • 9.09% (1) were shot;
  • 9.09%(1) involved a blunt Implement.

In terms of the gender of victims in the 11 unsolved cases:

  • 63.64% (7) were Male
  • 36.36% (4) were Female

In terms of the average age of victims in the 11 unsolved Cases:

  • The estimated average age of victims in unsolved cases was approximately 20.25 years.

The reason for the discrepancy between the homicide statistics reported by Murdermap and the MPS for 2023 can be attributed to the following factors. Firstly, Murdermap records homicides based on the date of death, while the police use a “recorded date” which is when the victim becomes part of a murder investigation, potentially differing by weeks, months, or years.

Additionally, the police may delay releasing details about certain cases, especially those involving infants and gross negligence manslaughter, which can be discovered much later, often in court. Lastly, Murdermap includes homicides from all 33 London boroughs, covered by three different forces: the Metropolitan Police, the British Transport Police, and the City of London Police, each maintaining separate homicide statistics.

As such, despite discrepancies between these two data sets for 2023, these figures highlight the need for better crime-solving strategies and community engagement with both Murdermap and MPS data showing a need to focus on specific issues like knife crime.

LOCATION

A full breakdown of the location of all killings can be found here[10]. A high number of the 103 homicides that occurred in London in 2023 happened in Croydon with 10 cases followed closely by Hounslow with 8 cases and Lambeth with 7 cases[11].

Locations of unsolved killings in 2023:

In terms of location, the most common Borough where murders were found to be unsolved in 2023 was Hounslow and Croydon with 3 murders each. This was followed by Ealing and Camden each with 2 unsolved murders. Additionally, there were singular unsolved murder cases in Newham, Lambeth, Hackney, Brent, Haringey, Lewisham, Enfield, Sutton, and Merton.

  • The poverty levels in most of these areas were notably high with Ealing at 34%,  Hounslow at 28%, Bexley at 26%, Southwark at 25%, and Hillingdon at 22%, in the 2021/2022 period[12].

This pattern underscores a critical and concerning concentration of violent crime in certain parts of the city facing economic hardship.

CONCLUSION

To summarize this report has shown that despite an overall improvement in the number of homicides being committed in London, the problem of violence continues to affect the city. The high number of stabbings, the overrepresentation of Black individuals as victims and offenders, and the concentration of these incidents in certain areas like Croydon, Hounslow, and Lambeth, indicate that tackling this issue needs more than just police action. A broader approach is necessary, one that looks at social and economic problems and works to improve community relations, especially among young people.

The data also shows that many offenders are young. This highlights the need for programs aimed at young people, like better education and community support, to prevent them from getting involved in violence. Also, the justice system needs to be more efficient. Many cases are still waiting to be tried, which suggests that the legal process needs to be faster and more effective.

In short, reducing violence in London requires a joint effort from the police, social services, schools, and community organizations. Focusing on the specific needs of the most affected areas and investing in young people can help lower these crime rates. This strategy is not just about dealing with the current situation but also about building a safer and more stable future for the city.

REFERENCES

[1-p.1][2] London crime: Grim start to 2023 with a series of violent incidents; MyLondon; https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/london-crime-grim-start-2023-25882497

[3] ‘This is a crisis’: London reeling from three killings in eight hours; The Guardian; https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/may/12/this-is-a-crisis-london-reeling-from-three-killings-in-eight-hours

[4] 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

[5-p.1][6] Rise in ‘ferocious’ and ‘excessively violent’ murders in London, says Met; The Standard; https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/met-police-murder-2023-trend-crime-homicide-london-crime-b1098346.html

[7][10][11]London Murder Map 2023; Murdermap; https://www.murdermap.co.uk/maps/london-murder-map-2023/

[8] Impact on Civilians: Knife Crime; AOAV; https://aoav.org.uk/category/impact-on-civilians/knife-crime/

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

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