Khan’s London: Shootings Rise in ‘Gun-Free’ Capital Despite Lockdown

Armed police officers hold guns as they stand in Downing Street, in central London on August 29, 2014. British Home Secretary Theresa May said on August 29 the country's terror threat risk level was being raised to "severe" due to fears over the situation in Iraq and Syria. AFP PHOTO …
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The number of shootings in London rose in 2020, despite the city being placed under draconian coronavirus lockdown measures for a large part of the year.

Scotland Yard revealed that there were 288 shootings in the British capital last year, up from 266 firearm incidents in 2019.

The force also revealed that while the number of homicides fell by 16 per cent in 2020 to 126, the number of domestic killings rose from 16 to 22, Sky News reported.

Despite London residents facing strict limits on their movements, the number of homicides in 2020 were comparable to 2018 when 127 were killed in London and were higher than in 2017 when there were 122 killings.

Of the 126 slain Londoners, 15 were teenagers. Fourteen of the homicides were committed with firearms, while 73 were stabbings.

Aside from the coronavirus, the rise in shootings also comes despite the UK having some of the world’s most restrictive gun laws.

One theory from the police on the rise in shootings in the British capital is that tensions between rival gangs — which were largely played out on social media during the initial lockdown — burst out onto the streets as restrictions were lifted during the summer.

Met Commander Jane Connors said: “As the restrictions were lifted, as we came out through May, June, July, and into the early part of August, we did start to see that the offence levels rose above pre-Covid levels.

“And that predominantly is because there were more people out on the streets, but also because some of the gang tensions that had been playing out on social media and people not able to take their reprisals, we did start to see a slight rise in some of the knife injuries that we were seeing.”

The number of children killed by their parents or caretakers also nearly doubled during the lockdown, with 12 children being killed in such circumstances, compared to seven in 2019.

One mother, Olga Freeman, admitted to the manslaughter of her disabled son this week, claiming that she suffered a mental breakdown during the lockdown when her son could not attend school. She killed 10-year-old Dylan by stuffing a sponge in his mouth and laying him down by his toys to suffocate.

Commander Dave McLaren said: “It is fair to say that mental health has played a part in a number of those crimes this year and it isn’t a massive leap of faith to say that lockdown has an impact on all of us in terms of our wellbeing.

“In terms of those cases, we have to see those reviews through and better understand the circumstances surrounding each of them before we get to the point of drawing a conclusion that there’s a direct assimilation with lockdown.”

The grim statistics mean that there were over 100 murders in the British capital for the sixth straight year. Since the 2016 election of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, there has been an “alarming hike in violent crime”, according to the Greater London Assembly Conservatives.

The tenure of Mr Khan was extended by at least one year as a result of the coronavirus crisis, with the 2020 mayoral elections being cancelled during the first wave of the Chinese virus.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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