Black people are 'four times more likely to be murdered'

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The Independent Online

Black people in London are four times more likely to be murder victims than white people, with those responsible for the murders and manslaughters also far more likely to be black. Homicide suspects are 12 times more likely to be black than white, in proportion to London's population.

The findings are included in a report due to be presented today by Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

The study, which covers cases of all unlawful killings, found that people from an African and Caribbean background were disproportionately likely to be both victims and suspects. Of the 163 homicides in London in the year to April 2006, there were 50 black victims, 72 white, and 23 Asian. Other ethnic minority groups make up the remainder. This compares to a population in the capital in which black people account for 11 per cent, Indian and Pakistanis for 12 per cent and white Europeans for 74 per cent.

Of the 279 people accused of committing the killings 140 were black, 77 were white European and 32 were Asian. The courts have yet to decide how many are guilty as charged.

Part of the explanation for such a high number of black victims and suspects is the continuing rivalry between crack cocaine gangs. The shooting of drug dealers and innocent bystanders accounts for, on average, 13 homicides per year.

The Metropolitan Police has an overall detection rate of 86 per cent. Within that total, the police are more successful at catching the killers of white and Asian people. The detection rates are 92 per cent for white European victims, 91 per cent when the victim is Asian and 84 per cent in black cases.

The study, Homicide and Serious Crime Command - investigating homicides, also says that traditional "house- to-house searches" are no longer considered as important as gathering evidence in the first few hours after a crime. It says research shows that the "golden hours" at the start of the inquiry are crucial as to whether a murder case can be solved quickly.

Scotland Yard is about to merge three murder department under one command which will have 1,291 officers and staff, 49 fewer officers than at present.