UK homicide rate fell for the first time in five years, but the capital’s rate defies national trend in rising, as Liverpool witnesses one of the most significant declines, in what Merseyside Police deem to be in direct correlation to a rigorous approach to stop and search.
The debate on stop and search led to the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, rolling back on police powers and between 2014 and 2018 the British murder rate grew year-on-year. The measure to water down stop and search was supported by Sadiq Khan in his bid for London mayoralty in 2016. The now mayor referenced social tensions attached to stop and search for the reason to curtail these measures. But as a consequence, London lags behind the rest of the country in tackling violent crime.
The murder rate across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland fell by 16% in 2019, but Liverpool stands out with a decline of 52%. Contrary to the national trend, the capital witnessed a rise of 12%. However, Liverpool was not alone in its murder rate collapsing. Birmingham’s rate fell by 24%, Manchester’s by 39% and West Yorkshire, that includes the cities of Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford, by 46%. The knife problem in the capital has raised question marks over Sadiq Khan’s tenure in City Hall, which may be an important issue when he seeks re-election this Spring.
The BBC report also produces a blow a further blow for Sadiq Khan. Earlier last year, the mayor declared that there was a clear link between poverty and murder. But there is no such correlation in this report. Merseyside Police cover extremely poor areas of Liverpool. The city ranked second, behind Middlesbrough, in having the most deprived areas, with just under half being considered ‘deprived’. Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, was ranked the tenth poorest neighbourhood in England, above any borough from London.
The Assistant Chief Constable in Merseyside, Ian Critchley, cited that the constabulary’s ‘relentless’ stop and search approach has been the main cause for the collapse in the murder rate. The successful detection of knives through stop and search would directly help stem the recent knife epidemic. As of 2019 stabbings resulted in 257 murders. This equates to just under 40% of all murders.
But Assistant Chief Constable Critchley also suggested other merits to stop and search. To the contrary of Sadiq Khan’s suggestion that poverty causes knife crime, the senior Liverpool police officer told the BBC that ‘homicides are related to serious organised crime’. He went further and suggested that stop and search could deter young people from carrying knives and as a result the police could help to stop ‘young people getting into crime in the first place.’ This would also directly attack the leaders of organised crime who use ‘bullying, cowardly tactics to groom young people to carry knives and firearms.’
If the police, with the support of Boris Johnson’s government, continue to increase the successful use of stop and search, alongside the introduction of 20,000 more police officers into the constabulary, then the crime epidemic, that has dominated the news networks in the past few years, can finally draw to a close.
By J Walters