London homicides driven by drugs and social media, study finds

Drugs, missed mental health sessions and social media usage are factors driving homicides, a study has found.

SOURCE LINK BBC NEWS

The London Violence Reduction Unit’s (VRU) report analysed police data to better understand the causes of murder and manslaughter.

Last year, there was a record number of teenage killings in the capital, despite a national Covid-19 lockdown.

Each homicide costs the police and criminal justice system an estimated £800,000, the report claims.

London’s homicide rate means it would have an annual cost of about £120m.

Established by the London mayor’s office, the VRU study by the behavioural insights team aimed to find a framework for experts, including the police, to deliver early and targeted interventions.

Following an analysis of 50 homicides, it found:

  • Existing police codes did not flag up all cases where mental health was a contributing factor
  • Drug-related homicides overlapped with all of the factors included in the analysis
  • Social media usage in homicides was more sophisticated than sharing threats or aggressive language online
  • The ability to delete messages on Snapchat was known and used, which may explain why it was favoured in the context of committing violence
  • Alcohol was more likely to contribute to homicides at particular times of day or key locations
  • Gang violence presented a particular homicide risk to young people

They will now use the framework to analyse another 300 cases with a view to it potentially being used more routinely in the capital.

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