In Brief

Homicide rate drops in UK despite London rise

A total of 650 people were killed last year - down from the 774 in 2018

The number of people killed across the UK fell in 2019 for the first time in five years, according to new research.

The study by the BBC has found that 650 people were killed in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland last year - down from the 774 homicides in 2018.

The BBC logged details of murder and manslaughter investigations launched by the 46 UK police forces throughout the year. Homicide figures fell for 26 of those forces while five recorded the same figure as in 2018.

However, London bucked that trend, with homicides in the capital rising for a third successive calendar year - to the highest level since 2008.

Essex also saw an increase from 13 homicides in 2018 to 54 homicides last year with the 39 Vietnamese nationals found in the back of a lorry in Grays in October among the dead.

In many other regions, the number has been dropping. West Midlands Police said the number fell from 51 in 2018 to 39 last year; while homicides in Greater Manchester were down from 64 to 39.

In Merseyside the homicide level more than halved. Merseyside Police's Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley credited a “relentless suppression” of serious organised crime.

“It is about stopping young people getting into crime in the first place,” he said. “We will target relentlessly people who feel they can control what is taking place in order to obtain money and use bullying, cowardly tactics to groom young people to carry knives and firearms.”

Last week, the home secretary gave 18 police forces an extra £35m to combat violence.

The Met Police says it has anti-knife crime plans specific to boroughs and aims to have more than 32,000 officers by summer 2020.

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