In all, 130 have lost their lives in London over the year, an average of around 10 monthly. It's the highest number of killings in a decade, the total exceeding 2017's — 180 — in November. If the violence continues at its present rate, 140 will have died by January 1 2019.
Two days later, on November 4, 22-year-old Ayodeji Habeeb Azeez was murdered in Anerley, South East London, and a day later 16-year-old John Ogunjobi died in Tulse Hill, in front of his parents. Since then, nine others have died, at least four of them due to knife attacks.
Speaking Too Soon
Perversely, the eruption followed almost immedaitely after Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick announced violence was beginning to decrease in London
"I'm glad to say figures have stopped going up and up as they have done in the last three years, they have plateaued and they are starting to come down," she told BBC Radio 4 at the start of November.
Her comments came after a huge upsurge in fatal violence at the start of the year, when 18 homicides occurred in both February and March, the second-highest monthly totals recorded since April 2010. The Metropolitan Police Violent Crime Task Force was set up in response, seizing 340 knives, 40 guns and 258 other offensive weapons, and making over 1,350 arrests in its first six months of operation.
Violence across the UK has risen significantly since 2010, and it's surely not coincidental in that same year then-Home Secretary Theresa May announced an 18 percent cut to annual police budgets. Over the next five years, police numbers in England and Wales fell from a peak of 144,353 in 2009 to 122,859, while specialist armed police officers fell from 6,796 in 2010 to 5,639. It was argued by UK officials continual falls in recorded crime since the mid-1990s demonstrated it wasn't necessary to maintain such a large police force, and there was no direct link between the number of officers and the level of crime.
Such reasoning appeared to be supported by drops in annual crime figures over the next few years — but the figures may well be misleading, as there's a two to three year lead-time for police budgets, so government cuts wouldn't produce obvious changes in stats for some time. Moreover, published crime figures typically cover the period 12 — 18 months prior to their publication, and may not offer a true picture of the state of crime at time of release.
Following a New Year's Eve in the capital which saw an unprecedentedly high number of stabbings, many of them fatal, the highly experienced former police officer Peter Kirkham spoke to Sputnik about who should be blamed for the epidemic of violent crime in the country.
"Theresa May has blood on her hands, pure and simple. When people die, we look for why that happened. She's been consistently told for years if she keeps pursuing the same policies, she'll lose control of the streets, and endanger public safety. Lo and behold, people have died. I don't understand why the government is so blind to what's happening all around them.No one seems to be able to get through to this mad woman. Sshe's putting public at risk. It's more and more obvious to people who understand policing it's in crisis. This needs to change, and urgently," he said.