Violence in London below 2019 levels but ‘still too high’

Violent crime in London is being “suppressed” below pre-pandemic levels despite a recent increase in incidents, according to a senior Metropolitan Police officer.

Speaking at a meeting of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee today, Met Police violent crime specialist Commander Alex Murray said that there had been “significant reductions” in violent crime during lockdown and that the Met “fully expects a bounce back” in the number of violent incidents as lockdown restrictions ease.

But Commander Murray said that reducing violent crime in the capital is the “number one priority” of the Metropolitan Police and that an “unparalleled amount of activity” was being carried out to ensure that violence is kept below pre-pandemic levels.

Commander Murray said: “Violence is rising compared to lockdown. What we do in the Met is we compare our data to 2019 when there wasn’t a lockdown, and we see how we’re doing there. We fully expect a bounce back and we are seeing that bounce back. But it is being supressed below the 2019 levels.

“It’s coming up again from a very low, Covid restriction lockdown. Robbery is going up, knife injury and violence for under 25-year-olds is going up, knife crime is going up as we come out of lockdown. But compared to 2019, we’re not seeing the return to the levels pre-Covid. It’s our job and everyone’s job to try and minimise that increase.”

During the first lockdown in 2020, violent crimes such as robbery fell by as much as 60 per cent, according to commander Murray, while overall during the pandemic it has fallen by roughly 25 per cent.

But there have already been several high-profile incidents this year since lockdown restrictions began to ease, including a mass brawl and stabbing in Hyde Park that was widely viewed after it was recorded and the footage posted online.

Today, Commander Murray said that violence in London was “still too high” despite not reaching pre-pandemic levels, and explained that the Met would have a focus on “enforcement, suppression and prevention” as lockdown restrictions continue to ease, and that it would be “working with communities to get on top of violence”.

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