Homicide rates around Britain are steadily rising

Warrington: Police search team leave Culcheth Linear Park

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Overall crime has been in consistent decline since the mid-Nineties, but fluctuations in the homicide rate over the past few years are defying this trend. While knives continue to be the most common method of killing, the number of homicides per area varies significantly. Express.co.uk breaks down the data to see what this means for you.

The Crown Prosecution Service describes homicide as any killing of a human being by another. In most cases, this is considered manslaughter if unintentional and murder if premeditated.

Although the total number of criminal offences committed has fallen at a consistent pace since 1995 – according to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales – a more troubling story is playing out with regard to homicides.

Shocking stories, such as the murders of Emma Pattinson and her seven-year-old daughter Lettie by her husband George in Epsom on February 5, are a reminder that homicide remains a rare but harrowing phenomenon in the UK.

Homicides returned to pre-pandemic levels in the year to March 2022, rising by 23 percent on the previous year to claim the lives of 696 victims.

The homicide rate was 11.7 per million population, up from 9.5 between April 2020 and March 2021 when much of the country was in lockdown, but also higher than the 11.4 between April 2019 and March 2020.

The homicide rate peaked roughly eight years after overall crime in England and Wales, hitting 17.9 in the year to March 2003. Despite falling considerably since then, from 2015 onwards the rate has fluctuated. 

Men accounted for 72 percent of homicide victims during the latest year, but 93 percent of convicted suspects.

Over a three-year period ending March 2022, the homicide rate for the Black ethnic group was 39.7 per million – approximately four times higher than for those classed as White.

READ MORE: Mom’s killing of 3 kids ‘unlike any other type of homicide’

The distribution of homicides around the country varies significantly. By the numbers, the Metropolitan Police recorded more homicides in London than anywhere else in the country. 

The 105 total represents 16 percent of the whole for England and Wales in the year ending September 2022. The capital was followed by Greater Manchester (46), the West Midlands (39) and West Yorkshire (33).

Outside of the City of London, the homicide rate per million was found to be highest in Gwent at 20.1. Also in Wales, Dyfed-Powys came second (19.1), followed by West Mercia (18.5).

The safest place in the country in homicide terms is Cheshire – with just two on record during the year, the Police Force Area’s rate was just 1.9 per million residents.

However, this reputation is undermined by the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey in Warrington on February 11.

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Knives or sharp objects are by far the most common methods of killing, found in 39 percent of cases. A total of 282 homicides were committed in this way in the year to March 2022 – more than any other year on record.

Diana Fawcett, Chief Executive at the charity Victim Support said: “Murder and manslaughter tear families apart, and can traumatise entire communities. 

“While overall homicide rates are similar to before the pandemic, this huge spike in the number of people being killed with a knife is very worrying – especially as certain groups, such as teenage boys, are being disproportionately affected. 

“The number of boys aged 16 and 17 killed with a knife has more than doubled – a heart-breaking figure which suggests we need to get a better grip on youth violence.”

According to the Home Office, just 5.6 of all crimes reported during the year to last March ended in a charge. Although the conviction rate for homicides is far higher – with 295 handed out – this still means just 42.4 percent of perpetrators are brought to justice.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Whilst murder rates in the UK are comparatively low, we are committed to preventing as many homicides as we can by confronting the main drivers.

“This includes our plan to transform society’s response to tackling domestic abuse; reducing both the demand for, and supply of illicit drugs, as well as ensuring high quality drug treatment through our ambitious 10-year Drugs Strategy; and providing £130 million to prevent serious violence through our network of Violence Reduction Units.

“We are also providing funding for innovative projects to prevent loss of life, including matching A&E data with police data on domestic abuse to identify and prevent where abuse is happening at home.”

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