Number of arrests in Baltimore plunge as violence rises

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Three police officersImage source, Getty Images

The number of arrests made by Baltimore police in May has plummeted as shootings and homicides have dramatically increased.

Data from the US city shows that officers are making about 45% fewer arrests than comparable times in previous years.

Meanwhile, local media have reported that May has turned out to be the deadliest month in the city since 1999.

The police department has not explained the decline in arrests.

It has been under scrutiny since the death of Freddie Gray in April set off weeks of protests and unrest.

Two homicides on Monday brought the total number of killings for the month to 35, and 108 for the year, according to the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

Arrest data made public by the city government and reviewed by the BBC showed that Baltimore police made 791 arrests from 1 May to 16 May - the most recent data available.

This marks a decline of over 55% from the same periods in 2013 and 2014.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has said in media interviews that a work slowdown by officers was not behind the decline in arrests.

New York City saw a drop in arrests in late 2014 after a man targeted and killed two officers in their patrol car. Although the police union denied an organised effort, those declines were largely attributed to a work slowdown by rank-and-file officers.

Mr Batts has also said large numbers of protesters and other observers has made it difficult for officers to conduct routine police work.

Image source, Getty Images

Gray, 25, suffered a severe spinal cord injury in police custody and died a week later.

During the incident, Gray repeatedly asked for medical assistance but was denied.

His death sparked weeks of protests and later riots and looting in Baltimore.

Government officials imposed a mandatory curfew and dispatched the national guard in an effort to restore order.

Six police officers involved in Gray's arrest have been charged in his death.