Over the past two months, London’s murder rate has for the first time risen above that of New York City. The shift in data follows a year-over-year downward trend in New York’s murder rate and a surge in gun crime that has plagued London since 2014.
London’s Metropolitan Police Service reported 15 murders in February and 22 murders in March, whereas the New York Police Department reported 14 murders in February and 21 in March, according to Reuters.
A spike in stabbing attacks has also contributed to London’s increased murder rate, as 31 of the 47 murders in London this year have been carried out with knives.
Both cities have similar total populations around 8 and half million residents.
According to Get West London, a London Assembly report noted that in the 12 months leading up to October of 2017, gun crime in London was up by 16 percent compared to the previous year and 44 percent compared to 2014. Also the number of guns fired in violent crimes has increased by 20 percent since 2012.
The Evening Standard notes that New York City’s murder rate has plunged by 87 percent since the ’90s, whereas London’s murder rate has spiked by 40 percent in the past 3 years, excluding deaths caused in terror attacks.
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick, Britain’s top cop, blamed social media for the rise in violent crime, saying that gangs are using popular online services to glamorize attacks and escalate conflicts.
Britain’s Interior Ministry said that in response to the spike in knife attacks, it’s considering legislation that would ban the delivery of knives by online stores to residential addresses and ban the possession of some types of weapons in public.
A BBC editorial cautioned that the two-month spike might just be a statistically anomalous “blip” that looks large due to having a small sample size of only two months, and pointed out that London has only had 47 murders this year so far compared to 50 in New York City.
Some have blamed the fact that officials in London have decreased the frequency at which officers perform stop-and-frisk searches for causing the increase in murders. However, New York City has also decreasingly used its own stop-and-frisk program during the same period, and murder rates have fallen precipitously, according to the BBC.
After a fatal south London stabbing on Sunday and the fatal shooting of a 17-year old girl in North London on Monday, a spokesperson for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Tuesday, “The Mayor is deeply concerned by violent crime in the capital – every life lost to violent crime is a tragedy… Our city remains one of the safest in the world … but Sadiq wants it to be even safer and is working hard to bring an end to this violent scourge.”