FEAR of Covid and the accompanying lockdowns have done much harm to the country. One possible thin silver lining has been a reduction in urban crime levels around the world, according to a Cambridge University study by as much as a third. This is not really surprising. With fewer people on the streets, the opportunities for robbery and mugging have fallen, and more people staying at home increases the risk of a burglar being disturbed in his work. As alcohol is a major driver of violent behaviour, the closure of pubs and clubs has prevented much of the fighting that follows when their patrons spill out. The Cambridge study concluded that lockdown restrictions ‘choked the opportunism that fuels so much urban crime’.
This made the news that the number of teenagers murdered in London in 2021 was a record – 30 – all the more newsworthy. The 2020 figure was much lower at 19, but it appears that the upward trend evident since 2012 has resumed after a temporary hiatus. There’s no sign that this year will be any better with two teenage murders in London already. It looks as if the effect of Covid fear and lockdowns in 2020 was temporary, with criminals realising that they can ignore restrictions or find ways around them, and thus ‘normality’ has returned.
Source: Met Police, City of London Police and British Transport Police
We know something about the murder victims as most of their names and pictures are in the public domain. However, the mainstream media (including BBC, Evening Standard and Daily Mail) are reluctant to note some obvious points. All of them were male. Nearly all were non-white though it’s difficult to be precise. Links to gangs or drug dealing are not explored. Of the murderers (suspected or confirmed), nothing is said. Some may have been under the influence of drugs or psychosis exacerbated by them, a thought that won’t have occurred to London Mayor Sadiq Khan while planning to decriminalise cannabis.
Yet strangely, the only honest comment has come from Khan. Launching a report looking at serious youth violence last month, he acknowledged that ‘young Black Londoners are significantly more likely to be a victim or a perpetrator of serious violence’. The Mayor’s report noted that young black people were, per capita, between four and 12 times more likely than white people to be perpetrators of serious violence. The figures for Asians were not included in the report – why not? Nor did the report link the elevated crime rates to the disproportionality of stop and searches of black people (see below), as that would suggest searches are driven not by racial bias but by the likelihood of being involved in criminal activity, and Khan’s friends in Black Lives Matter wouldn’t want to hear that.
Stop and search rates per 1,000 population (Source: Metropolitan Police)
The report trots out most of the usual excuses regarding benefits and poverty, and while it notes correlations between these factors and crime levels it accepts that these ‘are insufficient as evidence of causation’. The report makes no mention of parents. You have to be as brave, and perhaps as black, as Tony Sewell, chair of the Government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, to point out that ‘the black ethnic group has the highest proportion of lone-parent households at 13 per cent. There is a culture among some black men of producing children without taking responsibility. Inevitably, these children end up paying the price’.
The London Mayor’s report garnered virtually no attention. The press interest in the record number of teen murders has faded. No footballers are taking a knee for young black men killed on the streets of the capital. After all, it just raises too many difficult questions.