Sunday, October 24, 2010

E London murder becomes another statistic

Britain's inner cities appear to be increasingly violent with shootings and knife crime becoming more and more common. Many incidents do not get reported as they are considered so commonplace, only making headlines when more than one individual dies. Crime statistics make grim reading, and according to recent figures some ethnic groups are more likely to be perpetrators and victims of violent crime than others. In June, London's Metropolitan Police said that the majority of men held responsible for gun crimes, robberies and street crimes were black. And in the early hours of Saturday, two more young black teenagers fell victim to violence.

The incident was not unusual in itself. But the shooting of two young black teenagers in East London made national headlines. Samuel Adelagun, a 16 year old youth, had been with two friends when masked men approached them at around 3:30 in the early hours of Saturday morning. Samuel was shot in the chest and died at the scene. One of his two friends who was also shot remains in hospital, his condition described as 'stable'. The scene around Chesterton Road in Plaistow remained sealed off by police into Sunday while officers from Operation Trident, which deals with crime in the black community, investigated the scene. 

Many residents were undoubtedly shocked by the killing, especially of someone so young. But one man told Sky News he was unsurprised. "It's not a peaceful area, it's not a peaceful area, just put it that way," the young man told Sky, "You'd clarify this area as like the slums." He intimated that obtaining firearms was not difficult. "Getting a gun is like buying a sweet from a shop, for some people it's just a phone-call away. And you can get them on credit." He raised concerns too of the cycle of crime. "There's people like certain olders [sic] that are like influencing these youngers [sic] to carry on."

Just over 12% of London's 7.5 million population is black, including those of mixed black and white parentage, while 69% is white, according to the Office for National Statistics. But police figures also show that black men are twice as likely to be victims. They made up 29% of the male victims of gun crime and 24% of the male victims of knife crime.

The statistics show a greater proportion of crimes were perpetrated by blacks. Of street crimes, such as muggings, assault with intent to rob and snatching property, blacks were said to make up some 54%. Robbery accounted for 59% and gun crimes accounted for 67%. However the figures are a distortion, given that they only reflect numbers "proceeded upon" and do not account for conviction or dismissal. Unsolved crimes are also not included.

Nonetheless, the statistics clearly show that crime in certain communities is becoming a significant problem. The Sunday Telegraph obtained the figures via a Freedom of Information request after Rod Liddle, the writer, caused controversy last year when he claimed in an online blog published on The Spectator website that "the overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community". The comments led to claims that Mr Liddle was racist, However, Liddle said, "I cannot think of anything more vile than racism. The issue here is not racism, it is one of multiculturalism."

Some reports have suggested that Saturday's shooting in London was connected to a turf war between street gangs in Plaistow and nearby Custom House. One report claimed the victim Samual was nick named "Sammy Gunz" and was linked to the well-known Plaistow gang. Friends in the area denied he was involved in gangs [Sun / Mirror / Daily Mail / Telegraph / Sky News / BBC

The statistics certainly make grim reading, and the disproportionate amount of crime connected to certain ethnic groups may only serve to divide communities and feed racism. But some figures show that Britain may be tackling crime more efficiently than widely perceived. Britain's crime rate dropped again in the third quarter of 2009, continuing a trend that saw London's murder rate drop to its lowest for more than a decade. Home Office figures recorded 8% fewer crimes overall between July and September 2009 than in the three months previous, with burglaries down by 8% and robberies by 9%.Total crime in London in 2009 was down 2.3% and, as well as a historically low murder rate, down by 16% from 155 to 130. Knife crime in 2009 also showed a drop last year, dropping 7.9%. One hundred and fifty five murders is undoubtedly a depressing statistic. But to put in into context, around 200 people die in road accidents in London every year [Road deaths in London]. 

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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