New report shows violence cost London £3 billion last year

30 January 2020

A new report looking into the complex causes and impact of violence in London has revealed that violent incidents cost the capital £3 billion last year.

The report was part of the first ever capital-wide assessment of violence and an in-depth look at the reviews that take place after each specific homicide, commissioned by London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to inform their work. The two new separate studies combined provide a map of violence that will help to determine where to deliver early, targeted interventions to reduce the spread of violence across the city. 

New figures in the report show that alongside the tragic loss of life and misery experienced by families and communities, the economic impact to the capital is also substantial. Costs in 2018/19 for responding to homicides, violence offences, sexual offences and robbery, together with the loss of economic output was £3bn. 

Specific case reviews are carried out by an independent Chair, supported by the police, local authorities, health providers and probation services, to help better understand the broad circumstances of an incident. This piece of work, the first of its kind in London, focused on all of the reviews published since January 2016, bringing together domestic homicide reviews, serious case reviews (when a child or vulnerable adult dies or is seriously injured when abuse or neglect are thought to have been involved), safeguarding adults reviews and mental health homicide reviews.

The homicide review looked at 64 reviews published in the last three years in London. The reviews were grouped into six categories: Youth peer violence amongst 10–25-year-olds (including bullying-related suicide) (eight cases), adult peer violence (violence between two adults over 26 who are not related or in a relationship – nine cases), intimate partner violence (17 cases), adult family violence (nine cases), within-family violence towards children under-18 (18 cases), child sexual abuse outside the family (three cases).

The reviews found that:

-    Violence has become more serious, more frequent and driven by use of knives. Additional VRU data shows that there has been a 47 per cent increase in knife-related homicides since 2016, while between 2013/14 and 2017/18, hospital admissions for assaults with a sharp object increased by 32 per cent.

-    A highly localised approach – even down to specific roads and estates - is essential to understanding and responding to violence.

-    The deprivation of certain London neighbourhoods and vulnerability to gang-related criminality is deep-seated. The report cites London School of Economics research which shows that more than half of all the poorest neighbourhoods were also the poorest 100 years ago, and targets for criminal gangs operating in areas with high levels of deprivation.

-    Community and social cohesion are important tools in keeping neighbourhoods safe.

-    The report recommends supporting schools to do more to protect young people from exposure to gangs, and reducing exclusions. 

-    Domestic abuse features in a high proportion of reviews, and is recognised as a form of trauma, particularly for a young person.

-    The impact of Government cuts are likely to have increased the vulnerability of some neighbourhoods to violence. Between 2011/12 and 2018/19, 46 per cent of funding for London’s youth services was withdrawn. A reduction in police officer numbers has impacted on the police’s ability to disrupt and deter violence.

-    The drugs market has become more lucrative which has increased competition between criminal gangs. The darknet and its expansion has increased competition in drugs market. 

In response to the findings of the studies, the VRU will be directing £12m of new funding in 2020/2021, secured from investment from the Mayor and the Home Office, in targeted programmes and initiatives. This includes a proposal to direct funding to a new violence reduction programme that delivers interventions in specific local neighbourhoods and estates that are areas identified as most prone to violence.  

Read the studies here:

Violence in London – what we know and how to respond – The Behavioural Insights Team - Report

Analysis of statutory reviews of homicides and violent incidents – Social Care Institute for Excellence – Report | Appendices

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