Measures are being introduced to try to identify what is driving the rise in murder rates in the wake of a spike in teenage deaths at some of the UK’s homicide hotspots.
All killings in London, Birmingham and South Wales will be reviewed by authorities in an attempt to learn from the chaotic sequences of events that often lead to a death.
Each government agency involved in the life of the victim – health services, local authorities, children’s services, probation, and even volunteer groups – will contribute to examining what went wrong and considering how to identify the signs of a life at risk.
Police hope to see patterns that help prevent future killings. If the pilot scheme is successful, it will be rolled out in England and Wales.
The development comes during a sharp spike in teen murders and as concerns grow that disputes exacerbated by Covid lockdowns and uneducated months will unfold over the summer. Sources from the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which coordinates the capital’s homicide reviews, say that by examining the murders of older teens and engaging children’s services they hope to understand why young people they are increasingly drawn to violence.
Lib Peck, director of the London VRU, said: “It is absolutely crucial that we learn the lessons now that could help us make a life-saving intervention in the life of another young person.”
In London, local authorities, the NHS London, the probation service, the London Children’s Services Directors Association and the metropolitan police have voiced their support for the plan, which begins in the autumn. Experts hope that social media, drug trafficking activities and whether the victim had been excluded from school or was attending a student referral unit will be relevant.
“Input from children’s services, where appropriate, will help with any learning or intervention opportunities at an earlier age,” said a source close to the scheme.
Police intelligence confirms that gangs have targeted pupils who do not attend school for disciplinary reasons or due to coronavirus restrictions: more than a million children in England did not attend school in a single week last month for reasons related to Covid-19, a record rate of absences.
The serious case reviews investigate when a child dies, or is seriously harmed, “as a result of abuse or neglect,” but they applied to only five of the 120 recent homicides investigated by the VRU of the capital where the victim was under 18 years, and even less where the victim was older. “This was leaving a significant gap in our understanding and missed opportunities,” Peck said.
Murder rates in London are now broadly in line with last year’s total of 127 murders; What is causing new concern is the rate of teenage homicides, which has risen from a quarter of that total to around a third. So far, 22 teenagers have been killed in the capital this year compared to 14 in all of 2020. The youngest is Fares Maatou, 14, who died in April after being attacked in east London.
More broadly, the data appears to continue trends seen last year when the number of homicide victims aged 16-24 rose to 142 nationwide in the 12 months to March 2020, an increase of 32 from the previous year.
West Midlands Police have made tackling youth violence a priority after four teenagers were killed in five months in Birmingham, including 14-year-old Dea-John Reid. January 21st. South Wales has also witnessed violent crime among young people, with police warning that “teenagers attack each other”. In November last year, six people were hospitalized, three of them stabbed, after a “violent incident” in Cardiff city center.
Simon Harding, a former Home Office adviser and director of the National Center for Gang Research at the University of West London, said any attempt to analyze the circumstances of each murder is likely to be positive: “It generates learning, a better understanding. I could see that it would have a valuable impact on families, but we could also look at patterns, trends, influencers, and triggers. “
Harding said that pre-existing levels of violence caused by alcohol and drug use were exacerbated in regions like South Wales by the latest development in the violent drugs business model: borders between counties.
Rather than the gangs sending individuals to, say, Cardiff from Manchester, Harding said, they were now recruiting local dealers into their ranks, a development that was sparking new tensions and violence.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism