The latest statistics covering the last 12 months reveal there have been large reductions across the majority of key neighbourhood crime categories including robbery, burglary and theft. Overall, the seven neighbourhood crime categories show a 7% reduction, equating to nearly 25,000 fewer offences in the capital between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015 compared to the previous financial year (1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014).
Robbery, theft from the person, burglary and theft from motor vehicles all show significant reductions in the number of offences following targeted operations to cut crime being carried out in a wide range of areas and an additional 2,600 police officers being placed in local neighbourhood teams over the past year.
Mark Simmons (the Metropolitan Police Service’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing) stated: “We’re moving in the right direction on some of the key neighbourhood crime categories with some very good reductions, as well as seeing some equally encouraging results in homicide and knife crime. Our officers have spent the last year conducting both proactive operations and preventative work in order to reduce crime, better support victims and build more engagement with communities. However, we are not complacent and acknowledge there’s still much hard work to do. We will continue to keep up our intensified focus on areas such as violence with injury where we have seen a rise in recorded offences.”
Simmons also said: “I hope that Londoners will gain confidence from the improvements we have achieved and I’d like to assure them of our continuing commitment to making the capital an even safer place in which to live, work and visit.”
Detail underpinning the headline statistics
Robberies are down by 22.5% (6,347 fewer offences), with reductions in both personal robbery and business robbery – down by 23.1% and 13.5% respectively. There has been a particularly significant drop in the numbers of robberies of mobile phones, which stand at 38% (representing over 5,000 fewer offences)
The Met has worked to tackle this offence through the use of specialist response cars on Boroughs tasked to prioritise 999 calls for robbery as well as constantly striving to raise public awareness among capital-dwellers of steps they can take to reduce their chances of becoming victims.
Theft from the person (when no threat or violence has been used) shows a similarly big drop in offences, with a 26.4% reduction (11,250 fewer offences) and an even larger cut in the number of personal thefts where mobiles are stolen – a 36.9% drop – which represent around 60% of these cases.
There were 11,635 fewer burglaries across both residential and business categories in London in 2014-2015 compared with 2013-2014 – a reduction of 13.6% and continuing the long-term downward trend. Theft from motor vehicles also reduced by 20% (with over 12,300 fewer crimes).
The Met has introduced a range of innovative methods to tackle burglary, including predictive crime mapping and the biggest ever roll out of the ‘Met Trace’ pilot under which half a million London home owners will be provided with free kits allowing them to mark their possessions with a unique forensic code which can be used by police to trace items and link suspects to crime scenes. It has been estimated this move alone could prevent over 7,000 residential burglary offences, in turn saving the Met almost £5 million and freeing up 140,000 police hours (equivalent to 17,400 police working days).
Most recently, the use of new technology in the form of a device that captures shoe prints of individuals who are arrested and then compares these against those found at crime scenes has already achieved impressive results in catching offenders. It enables forensics teams to access the images of footwear from remote locations and reduces the process of developing foot prints from five days to two minutes (ie this method is 92% quicker).
Rise in ‘Violence with Injury’
Violence with Injury has gone up by 18.9% (standing at 11,096 offences), with around a third of this total made up of domestic abuse Violence with Injury cases. While figures show a consistent rise, analysis shows this is largely attributable to more accurate crime recording rather than an actual rise in violence per se.
Data from the London Ambulance Service supports this view, with 5,000 fewer calls to its Control Room to attend to victims of violent injury over the last nine months.
Overall crime – total notifiable offences or TNOs (which excludes fraud) – has gone up very slightly, with the figure having increased by 0.9% (6,560 offences). Theft of motor vehicles has also risen by 6.6%.
Although the rise in Violence with Injury has been driven by more accurate recording of individual offences, the Met has put concerted efforts into tackling this issue through a co-ordinated crackdown in all 32 Boroughs that was launched last year and is now integrated into every area’s daily crime plans.
This involves enhanced resources being deployed at the locations where violence disproportionately occurs and encompasses a range of activities from high visibility patrols and enforcing No Drinking zones through to new licensing initiatives such as the breathalyser machines shortly to be rolled out in ten London Boroughs.
These are aimed at preventing violence occurring in late night venues by identifying individuals who arrive ‘pre-loaded’ with alcohol and barring them from entry.
Other tactics employed under Operation Equinox include 5,600 weapon sweeps carried out over the last six months (during which police have recovered 500 weapons) as well as over 5,000 visits to licensed premises.
Knife and gun crime: the present situation
Knife crime offences reduced by 3.9% over the comparison period with almost 400 fewer offences, making it the lowest total in this category across the last eight years. Nearly half (49%) of knife crime relates to knife-enabled robberies which have reduced by 19%, mirroring the downward trend in robbery overall.
However, in contrast to overall knife crimes, knife injuries are up by 12% (374 offences), and particularly so among the under 25 age group.
Gun crime offences show a very small increase of 1.7% (28) during the last 12 months, with around two fifths of gun crime (40%) relating to robberies which have reduced by 13%. The number of homicides has decreased, with 11 fewer over the last year than the previous 12 months. While the number of homicides in January this year (15) was the highest individual month for some years, annual homicide levels have been reducing and reached their lowest number in the last 45 years during the 2014 calendar year (92).
Tackling weapon-related violence is a priority for the Met. The force works with parents, schools, local authorities and charitable organisations as part of an overall programme to address this issue. Operations continually take place throughout the capital focusing on key times and places where intelligence points to the highest risk. The Met proactively targets known violent offenders, stopping and searching people to detect and deter the carrying of weapons and deploy screening arches in locations such as transport hubs.
During 2014-2015, more than 1,910 gang members were arrested and those involved in gang-related crime were jailed for over 1,418 years. A further 1,393 gang members are subject to judicial restrictions such as gang injunctions or ASBOs, are electronically tagged, managed under licence or subject to Youth Referral Orders. Of those, 1,023 gang members are in custody.