A deadly year
News of several fatal stabbings in London over New Year’s Eve 2017 foreshadowed the year to come. A high rate of killings was evident throughout the first half of 2018 with March the single deadliest month. Two teenagers were shot and killed on consecutive days in early April; the deaths of 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake in Tottenham and 16-year-old Amaan Shakoor in Walthamstow heightened a sense of crisis.
Young male victims predominate
More than two-fifths of all people killed in London in 2018 were men aged under 30. These deaths were heavily concentrated in the 15-24 age group. Five teenagers died in both February and April, when two of the dead were women aged 17 and 18. Overall, there were almost three male victims of homicide for every woman killed. Female victims were more evenly distributed throughout the age groups and more likely to die by means other than stabbing or shooting, including domestic abuse.
Most homicides are stabbings
Those killed under the age of 30 were predominantly stabbed to death and all but three of last year’s fatal shootings also involved victims in this age group. Surgeons have spoken of how horrific gun and knife injuries are now commonplace. The high number of deadly stabbings is reflected nationally, with 2018 the fourth worst year on record for knife deaths among under-20s in England and Wales.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has faced criticism for the high number of deaths. Middle-class cocaine use fuelling drug-related gang violence, cuts to police budgets and the normalisation of carrying knives for personal security and status have all been blamed. Khan has announced a number of initiatives including a £45m fund for educational and cultural projects to steer young people away from crime, as well as an attempt to replicate a successful Scottish approach that treated violence in Glasgow as a public health issue.
With 2019 off to a similarly lethal start, pressure to reduce the number of killings is unlikely to relent. Two people were stabbed to death in the early hours of New Year’s Day and on 8 January 14-year-old Jayden Moodie was hit by a car and stabbed in Leyton.
Data sources: Metropolitan police, Murdermap and Guardian research. The Met’s current total for homicides in London in 2018 is 135 but the force does not habitually provide an itemised list