The number of people killed in London hit a 10-year high in 2018 and more than a fifth of victims were children and teenagers, figures show.
The 134 homicides recorded by the Metropolitan Police included 24 where the victims were aged 19 or under.
Of those, 18 were stabbed, five were shot and one woman was killed by a head injury.
It was London’s highest homicide total since 2008, which saw 154 people killed, and a 15 per cent rise year-on-year.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick had named street violence as her “number one priority” and acknowledged the last 12 months had been “challenging”.
At an end-of-year briefing with journalists, she said there had been a rise in domestic killings but that the number of young people being stabbed in public had fallen.
“We’re trying our very hardest to reduce violence on the streets as much as we can,” Ms Dick said.
“I do see some cautious room for optimism … where knife crime injuries for under-25s was going up steeply, it has started to come down and we are 13 per cent down year-on-year.
“Young people being stabbed is a key metric for me and it falling. I think we will need to keep up our efforts on that next year, it will remain a very high priority.”
Ms Dick, Britain’s most senior police officer, said she was also proud of Scotland Yard’s “very strong” detection and conviction rates for homicides, which stood above 80 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.
Police say London’s situation is not unique in England and Wales, and have warned of “Wild West” violence sweeping the country amid record levels of knife crime.
Murder detectives have raised concern over increasingly “feral” attacks seeing victims stabbed multiple times, amid warnings that rising violence is driving an increase in knife possession.
Children as young as nine have been found carrying weapons in the belief they will be protected, while officials have warned of a “lost generation” created by austerity and drug gangs.
Amid public outrage over a spate of street murders in the spring, a Violent Crime Taskforce was set up in London that has since seized more than 500 guns, 2,000 knives and 900 other weapons.
The use of stop and search powers has increased, and Ms Dick said armed police may be deployed to patrol areas “where gang activity is likely”.
The capital’s murder rate briefly overtook that of New York in April, but the American city has seen more than twice the number of homicides as London this year – around 285 – giving it a murder rate around double that in London.
Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans for a violence reduction unit that would adopt the public health approach successfully used in Glasgow but warned that the trend could take a generation to overcome.
Steve O’Connell, chair of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee, said the grim 2018 death toll was “a tragedy not only for those most affected, the family and friends of the victims, but for all Londoners”.
He added: “Violent crime now has to be the top priority for the capital and it is time that more action was taken by the mayor, alongside the Met, and by central government to stem the tide of lawlessness. Londoners are crying out for urgent solutions now – not 10 years in the future.”
Police have pointed to links between violence and “county lines” drug networks, where urban dealers force children and other vulnerable people to courier illegal substances to customers in more rural areas.
Figures show that cocaine production, purity and supply is up, while the price has fallen. In the same period, the number of drug-related deaths and people being treated for addiction has risen.
Middle class cocaine users have come under fire from a number of public figures pointing to the misery caused by the drugs trade.
Drill music, where rappers taunt rivals with lyrics threatening violence, and the role of social media in escalating disputes have also come under the microscope.
Following criticism of Tory cuts to policing, seeing the loss of 20,000 offices since 2010, the home secretary admitted that police officer numbers were “an important part” of the fight against violent crime.
The government announced a £970m funding boost for police in England and Wales in December, but the calculation relies on £500m generated through council tax increases.
Critics accused the Conservatives of “passing the buck of funding the police service to the public”, amid calls for funding increases to other public services, including mental health, youth centres and social services to boost crime prevention work.
It came after a Home Affairs Committee report warned of “dire consequences for public safety and criminal justice” if police funding was not increased, saying the service was at risk of becoming irrelevant as the proportion of solved crimes falls.
Teenagers killed in London in 2018:
- Hasan Ozcan, 19, stabbed in Barking and Dagenham borough on 3 February
- Sabri Chibani, 19, stabbed in Lambeth borough on 11 February
- Lord Promise Nkenda. 17, stabbed in Newham borough on 14 February
- Lewis Blackman, 19, stabbed in Kensington and Chelsea borough on 18 February
- Abdikarim Hassan, 17, stabbed in Camden borough on 20 February
- Kelvin Odunuyi, 17, shot in Haringey borough on 8 March
- Lyndon Davis, 18, stabbed in Havering borough on 14 March
- Tanesha Melbourne-Blake, 17, shot in Haringey borough on 2 April
- Amaan Shakoor, 16, shot in Waltham Forest borough on 2 April
- Israel Ogunsola, 18, stabbed in Hackney borough on 4 April
- Natasha Hill, 18, died of head injuries in Greenwich borough on 15 April
- Sami Sidhom, 18, stabbed in Newham borough on 16 April
- Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton, 17, shot in Kennington on 5 May
- Jordan Douherty, 15, stabbed in Romford on 23 June
- Katrina Makunova, 17, stabbed in Camberwell on 12 July
- Latwaan Griffiths, 18, stabbed in Lambeth borough on 25 Julu
- Abdi Ali, 18, died after suffering blunt trauma to head and stab wounds to chest in Enfield on 27 August
- Guled Farah, 19, shot in Waltham Forest borough on 22 September
- Ethan Nedd-Bruce, 18, stabbed in Greenwich borough on 22 October
- Jay Hughes, 15, stabbed in Lewisham borough on 1 November
- Malcolm Milde-Madariola, 17, stabbed in Clapham on 2 November
- John Ogunjobi, 16, stabbed in Lambeth on 6 November
- Aron Warren, 18, stabbed in Greenwich borough on 8 December
- Jay Sewell, 18, stabbed in Greenwich borough on 11 December
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