UK

Murder rate rises after spate of killings in June 2015

police crime scene tape Image copyright PA

Murders and killings in England and Wales have increased to their highest level for five years, figures show.

The 14% increase in the year to September 2015 was largely due to a high number of deaths in June when 75 people were killed in one month, the Office for National Statistics found.

There were 574 murders and killings in total, 71 more than the previous year.

Overall reported crime was up by 6% to 4.3 million offences but the ONS said it was due to better recording methods.

While the murder rate in England and Wales has risen, it remains significantly lower than it was a decade ago because of 10 years of previous falls.

The recent increase includes relatively high numbers of killings in June and also in November 2014 when 58 people were killed.

There was also a 19% rise in attempted murders, but the ONS said it was too early to say if this was a growing trend.

England and Wales crime stats

Figures for year ending September 2015

6%

increase in crimes recorded by police in England and Wales

  • 4.3 million offences recorded by police

  • 574 homicides, 71 more than previous year

  • 9% rise in offences involving knives or sharp instruments

  • 4% increase in offences involving firearms

Getty Images

Knife crime was up 9% with 27,487 offences, while gun crime was up 4% to 4,994 offences. The latter increase was mostly driven by a rise in gun offences in London, the ONS said.

Overall crime figures have risen but this was put down to "a greater proportion of reports of crime being recorded" following improvements by police forces rather than actual numbers of crimes going up.

But the ONS said rises in knife attacks and gun offences were less likely to explained by changes in recording practices.


Analysis

Image copyright PA

By Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent

Police figures need to be approached with caution: forces have adapted their methods after an inspection found they were not recording one in every five offences reported to them.

With gun crime, for example, it's too early to say if the rise is more than just a blip.

However, there does appear to be a genuine increase in offences involving knives, which may be fuelling the rise in attempted murders.

The problem is particularly marked in London where some young people carry knives in the misguided belief it will help protect them.

As for murders and killings, the increase cannot be explained by police recording practices, but might be connected to an upturn in the economy, which means more people drinking and getting into fights or a reduction in domestic violence prevention work by cash-strapped police.

The increases were mainly in south-east England and Wales. Alternatively, it could be a statistical quirk - with two months showing unusually high rises: we should find out when more detailed data is published next month.


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