Police welcome fall in London murder rate


London's homicide rate has fallen steadily over the last decade, figures from the Metropolitan Police have shown.

While 2003 saw 222 homicides in the capital, the number had dropped to 117 by 2011.

The latest available figures, from April 1 last year to March 26 this year, show 101 homicides committed in the city during that time.

The declining homicide rate has been attributed to a combination of successful crime prevention work and the response of paramedics and other medical staff treating stabbing and shooting victims.

In the past, the role of paramedics was to collect the victim and transport them straight to hospital.

But they are now trained to deal with injuries at the scene and begin treatment as soon as they reach the victim's side.

Where previously victims would be taken to the nearest casualty ward as a matter of course, they can now be taken to major trauma centres where expert clinicians treat patients around the clock, boosting their survival rate.

London's air ambulance is also able to transport victims to hospital speedily and blood transfusions can now be performed by medics at the crime scene.

Scotland Yard praised police and community efforts to keep crime down.

Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell, head of the Metropolitan Police Service Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: "London has seen a falling murder rate over the last ten years. While one murder is one too many we hope people will see this downward trend as a positive sign of a city that is a safe place to visit, work and live.

"We recognise that some areas are more vulnerable to violent crime than others. The work of very many people in the police, communities and other organisations, and their efforts in preventing crime in the first place, has helped achieve this reduction.

"We want that to continue and the help of the public is essential in achieving both the arrests and convictions that follow.

"However, there are some murders where we still seek support and information and we continue to investigate those cases."

The Met has grown in size in recent years, while the area it covers has shrunk.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson welcomed the decline in homicides to what is said to be the lowest rate since the 1960s.

He said: "In one of the toughest financial environments we've managed to get 1,000 more police on the street and drive down crime by more than 10% across London, making it the safest it's been in years.

"Cutting the number of murders to levels not seen since the 1960s has been a significant achievement. It is also a credit to the Met and NHS and their highly trained staff who are making a huge difference in preventing more deaths.

"But there is more to do. Setting up the first ever 1,000-strong taskforce dedicated to gang and knife crime and getting 2,000 more officers into safer neighbourhood teams and frontline policing will help to further drive down crime and make our streets safer."

Mr Johnson's re-election campaign staff pointed out that he had invested an extra £42 million in the Met last year and secured £90 million from Government this year.

The number of police on the capital's streets will have risen from 31,398 in 2008 to 32,320 by the end of this month while the number of special constables has risen from 2,500 to 5,000 - a figure Mr Johnson hopes to double if re-elected next month when Londoners go to the polls to choose their mayor.