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Can public health strategies tackle London’s rise in fatal violence?

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 06 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1578
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. London

The capital’s recent string of murders has shone a spotlight on knife crime, and that can only be a good thing, reports Ingrid Torjesen

“London remains one of the safest cities in the world,” the Metropolitan Police assured The BMJ last week after a spate of violent attacks in the capital left most media outlets reporting the capital’s murder rate as higher than New York’s.

The Met is investigating 55 murders in London so far this year. There were 15 in February and 22 in March, while in the same months New York recorded 11 and 21 murders, leading to the media hype. But as Simon Jenkins in the Guardian pointed out, “Comparing murder rates for periods of less than a year is dumb.”1 The figures may be just a blip, and in the whole of 2017 London had 116 murders, whereas New York had 290,2 the lowest number there since the 1950s.

What is certain, however, is that London has a problem with knife crime, particularly among young men. Eighty of the murders in London in 2017 were stabbings,3 …

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