London stabbings: 80 people stabbed to death in capital in 2017 after four killed in 'senseless' New Year knife attacks

Murders end year that saw highest number of teenagers murdered in London since 2008

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 02 January 2018 12:47 GMT
Police and forensic officers at the scene of a stabbing at Bartholomew Court, near Old Street in London
Police and forensic officers at the scene of a stabbing at Bartholomew Court, near Old Street in London (PA)

Six people have been arrested following murders that took four young lives as the UK celebrated New Year’s Eve.

Police condemned the “senseless” killings of a 17-year-old boy, an 18-year-old man and two others aged 20, which pushed the number of people stabbed to death in London to 80 in 2017.

The unrelated stabbings bring the number of teenagers murdered in the capital to the highest for almost a decade, with 20 stabbed, five shot and one victim dying of multiple injuries last year.

It is the highest number of teenage homicides in the city since 2008, coming amid mounting concern over a rise in violence including knife crime, moped robberies and acid attacks.

Sir Craig Mackey, the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said it was “truly unusual and extraordinary” for so many murders to take place in such a short period of time.

“The reasons behind it are quite complex,” he added. “There are a number of issues affecting knife crime.

“We are absolutely clear we are doing our part to do the things we can do as the police service... but we need others across London working with us to help tackle those underlying issues around a knife culture that has emerged across London.”

Police and forensic officers at the scene of a stabbing at Bartholomew Court, near Old Street in London (PA)

He added: “I’m not here today to ask for or bid for more resources, we’d always like more resources in terms of those things we tackle.

“But it’s clear there are things we can do at the moment collectively that will help around knife crime.”

Sir Craig, who was awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours, said police were searching for weapons in communities and public places, going into schools and seized hundreds of knives in November and December.

“We need to find out why some young people think it is acceptable to carry knives, and this is where community organisations and local initiatives, charities, schools and educators, youth workers and families all have an important role to play in changing this mindset,” he added.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of stabbing a man to death at a New Year’s Eve house party.

Police said the suspect was arrested in the Hackney area shortly before 9pm on Monday and remains in custody.

He is accused of murdering a 20-year-old man who was pronounced dead at a flat in Bartholomew Court, Islington, at around 3.30am.

A second victim, also aged 20, was stabbed in the same incident and remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

“Officers believe that both men had attended a house party at the address and a disturbance broke out which then led to both of them receiving stab injuries,” Scotland Yard said.

It was the last murder in a spate of bloodshed that started at 11.30am on Sunday with the murder of an 18-year-old man.

He was found suffering from stab injuries inside a building in Larmans Road, Enfield. The victim was flown to hospital by air ambulance but died that night.

Three male suspects aged 17, 18 and 21 have been arrested on suspicion of murder, while two others aged 17 and 19 have been charged with suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

The 17-year-old murder suspect is under arrest at a London hospital and the others remain in police custody.

Shortly after 7.30pm on the same day, a 20-year-old man was attacked in Memorial Avenue, near West Ham Tube station in east London.

A police van on Memorial Avenue in West Ham, east London, near to the scene of a stabbing (PA)

Police arrived to find the victim suffering from several stab injuries and paramedics could not resuscitate him, pronouncing him dead at the scene.

Detective Chief Inspector Will Reynolds appealed for members of a group he was with at the time of the stabbing to come forward, adding: “This attack has robbed a young man of his future and robbed a family of their loved one. I know that there were people in the area who witnessed the incident.”

Three hours later, a 17-year-old boy was fatally stabbed near Tulse Hill railway station in south London, dying on the pavement from a single wound.

Detectives said they had an “open mind” over possible motives but that the victim was involved in an argument on a bus travelling through the area shortly before the attack.

Commander Neil Jerome, of the Metropolitan Police’s Territorial Policing Command, said specialist officers were supporting four grieving families after the “senseless” killings.

“I would urge anyone with information about these attacks, and more generally about anyone who routinely carries a knife, to urgently pass that information to police or Crimestoppers,” he added.

“If you’ve hesitated to do so before, then these four tragic deaths at the start of a new year may persuade you to act now to make London safer for your family and friends in 2018.”

Police officers in Tulse Hill, south London, after a 17-year-old boy was stabbed to death (PA)

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, repeated the call for information and said his thoughts were with the victims’ families.

“We will work tirelessly in 2018 and beyond to stamp out this scourge. I want to be absolutely clear – if you use a knife the full force of the law will be brought down on you,” he added. “You will be caught and prosecuted.”

Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said stabbings had risen by 15 per cent in the capital in 2017 and warned the crime wave was being driven by a “core group of young offenders” repeatedly committing assault and robbery “with relative impunity”.

The London murders came amid a spate of violence across the UK as millions celebrated the start of 2018. A mother was allegedly murdered by her husband shortly before midnight and five people were stabbed at a Great Gatsby-themed party in Sheffield.

Crime reported to police has risen by 13 per cent across England and Wales in the past year, with the increase partly attributed to a “genuine rise in violent crime”.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Additional reporting by PA

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