London’s murder rate has reached a three year high with 18 people killed in the capital so far this year alone, despite the country being in lockdown.
Six of the deaths have come in the last two weeks as police warn that rising frustration over Covid restrictions is boiling over onto the streets. London has already seen several bloody nights of violence with a stretched Metropolitan Police now conducting multiple murder investigations. This year’s death rate is up by a quarter on the same period last year, when 15 people were killed.
The same number were killed the year before, according to an investigation by The Sun newspaper.
On Monday, dad-to-be Tyreke Watson, 21, was stabbed to death in the middle of the afternoon on a busy road in Tottenham. Another man, Momodu Samura, 21, has been charged with murder. At almost exactly the same time that Tyreke was being killed, over in west London, a woman was murdered in a house in Ealing. Formal identification hasn’t yet taken place but she’s thought to be Anna Ovsyannikova, 48. Curtis Brown, also 48, has been charged with murder. Meanwhile, on February 17, taxi driver Gabriel Bringye, 37, was found stabbed in a car in Haringey. Three teenagers, who can’t be named for legal reasons, have been charged with murder.
A day later Drekwon Patterson, who was just 16, was stabbed in Preston Road in Wembley after a car was driven at him. Then, earlier in the month, trainee lawyer Sven Badzak, 22, died after being attacked by a gang of six wielding knives outside a bagel shop near his home in Kilburn. He had only gone out to buy his mum some orange juice. The Met has pledged to put more officers on the street as lockdown eases but many fear the end of the restrictions is going to make matters worse. Ken Marsh, chairman of the Met Police Federation – which represents rank-and-file officers – told the Sun: ‘It is going to get even worse. Our concern is that as the country comes out of lockdown then we are going to enter into a silly season.
There is a major problem with gangs and youth violence in London and sadly I think it is going to get very naughty. ‘There is a genuine concern among the police that we are moving into a position this summer where the levels of violence become unprecedented. ‘A perfect storm is being created and it is going to be a struggle for the police to cope.’ It’s feared that the current high unemployment rate and lack of freedom are pushing more young men into gang violence while lockdown has also made domestic murders more likely.
Services such as youth clubs and anti-violence classes in schools have also not been able to take place because of the pandemic. Police officers could be stationed outside schools in problem areas, according to plans being considered by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan. The Met has also launched a ‘surge’ in officers out on the streets in a bid to get a grip on the escalating violence and deal with any problems the easing of lockdown raises. Commander Jane Connors, the Met’s Violence Lead, said: ‘We are ready and prepared to deal with any potential violence that may become apparent as the lockdown restrictions ease.
This operational activity already places us on the front foot to prevent any emerging incidents of violence. ‘This surge activity gives officers the ability to assess intelligence and identify certain areas where there is a risk for these crimes to occur. ‘Officers will then be deployed to these locations to focus on deterring these crimes and making communities feel safer.
‘Our presence will be noticed, you will see officers on the streets carrying out a range of activity. This will also include the prevention of crime by reassuring the public at the forefront of officers’ minds whilst carrying out their duties. ‘We want to hear from anyone who may have information that can protect our communities.’ Met Commander Dave McLaren cautioned against reading too much into the statistics and said, despite the recent spate of murders, violent crime in the capital remains low.
‘Any life which is lost through violence in London is a tragedy and simply one too many, he said. We know the traumatic and devastating impact these crimes have on victim’s families and friends and that remains at the very centre of why we do, what we do. ‘We must remember that homicide is at the most extreme end of the violence scale and this year violent crime levels remain low. Homicide numbers fluctuate from month-to-month and for this reason, we must look at much wider timeframes to identify and better understand trends. ‘Last year the number of homicides significantly reduced by 16 per cent compared to 2019 as did the wider violence picture across London by 26 per cent. ‘Our top priority in 2021 continues to be reducing violent crime and Londoners can expect to see more officers on the streets to prevent and respond to violence in all its forms. These officers will be deployed to high-risk locations to carry out a range of activity – all aimed at keeping communities safe.’
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