London more dangerous than New York? Fake News. Blame the Mayor, Mrs May or useless Cressida Dick - Not a fair charge

Tom Winnifrith Wednesday 4 April 2018


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So far this year there have been 48 murders in London and after a particularly bloody March the Sunday Times declared that the British Capital now had a higher murder rate than New York. Great headline but sadly its fake news. Then the blame game - based on the fake news - started and again everyone just ignored the data and shouted.

In New York manslaughter cases are lumped in with the murder counts and in London we ignore terrorist killings to give an underlying number. Given how frequently ISIS strikes, treating its crimes as "one offs" is perhaps a tad misleading. But start from the basis that London is arguably understating the murder count while New York marginally overstates.

On that basis, London did suffer more murders than New York in March and, by a whisker, in February. But in January the Big Apple was streets ahead so overall the Yanks have it by a short head so far in 2018 having been well ahead in 2016 and 20177 with roughly double the London rate. Two months is not really a fair statistical sample so the Sunday Times headline and subsequent media and political circus was true but misleading.

What cannot be denied are trends. In 1985 when I lived in New York its murder rate was nine times that of London a City of roughly the same size The New York rate has plunged dramatically while that of London fell in the nineties but has now been rising steeply for five years and is heading back to all time highs. Clearly if current trends continue London will overtake New York at some stage.

You cannot, however, say that London is a wild and dangerous place. The politicians and journalists are too craven to say this but the vast majority of both victims and perps are poor, black, Asian or first generation migrants. The chances of a there being a murder or murderer in the leafy and overwhelmingly white, affluent neighbourhoods of Chiswick, Richmond or Sutton are virtually nil. They are very safe places to live. London only becomes a a bit more dangerous if you are a non white person living in a poor district.

So why has crime gone up? Sophie Linden the hapless Deputy Mayor of London responsible for crime and the Police says that her boss Mayor Khan is working with the Old Bill to "take guns and knives off the streets". Those would be the guns that are banned in the UK but not in the US and are used in 20% of London murders. If proof was needed that just shows that prohibition does not work, it just pushes up prices and - in the case of guns - restricts ownership to the criminal classes rather than law abiding folk who want to defend themselves. As for knives... perhaps Sophie has not looked in her kitchen of late or at the local hardware store or in any garden shed in London - is she going to band them too? Sophie wins a cliche award if nothing else.

Linden and others on the left were quick to blame wicked Tory cuts on Met funding for the rise in crime. Those cuts have not stopped the Met having ample resources to investigate the tweets of Katie Hopkins on a daily basis and to tackle numerous other not so pressing issues. But perhaps, more importantly Police spending in London and New York are almost the same and there are almost the same number of cops in each City. So how come the New York murder rate has been plunging steadily for 30 years while London's has increased?

Blaming the ridiculous political correctness of the Met under Cressida Dick over the past couple of years does not explain decades long trends in the two Cities. Yes Dick is a toe-curlingly embarrassing disgrace but just on this occasion blaming her or the hapless Mayor Khan for multi year trends is simply political point scoring and does not address the issue. Likewise blaming Tory cuts - the data suggests this is also a political points scoring and nothing else.

If the useless Prime Minister Mrs May is to be blamed for anything it is perhaps her efforts as Home Secretary to reduce Police usage of Stop & Search as a way of stopping crime. Disproportionately those picked up under SOS were black. In New York they have continued with SAS. I care less about the civil rights of those who suffer SAS as if they are not "carrying" they have nothing to hide. I care more about the civil rights of those killed who are also disproportionately black. The political correctness of Mrs May - endorsed by almost everyone - let such folks down.

But are changes in SAS since 2010 really to blame for multi year trends in London and New York? At the margin maybe. there are surely wider trends in society which are driving what is going on. I'm not smart enough to say what they are, I merely point out that amid the abuse of data and silly blame game, little is being done to examine the real trends or to try to reverse them.

About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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