‘Cycle of fear’: Financial cost of London’s violent crime surges to £7bn

Centre for Social Justice think tank lays bare “a cycle of fear” that continues to represent “significant” harm to society

By News Desk
May 18, 2024
Police and forensics officers work near the scene of a fatal stabbing as British police said they were investigating at least five separate serious violent incidents in Croydon, London, Britain. — Reuters/File

LONDON: The financial cost of London’s violent crime epidemic has spiralled to a staggering £7 billion a year, a new report claims.


One in four people said they had been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years while living in the capital, it concludes.

The Centre for Social Justice think tank lays bare “a cycle of fear” that continues to represent “significant” harm to society.

London mayor Sadiq Khan, seeking a historic third term on May 2, is accused of letting crime soar “out of control” by Tory challenger Susan Hall. Mr Khan defended his record and blames austerity.

But the latest figures are more than double the £3 billion his own Violence Reduction Unit put on the serious consequences of such offending in 2019.

The CSJ, set up by former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, adds the financial impact of 110 homicides recorded in 2023 is £271 million, including emergency service response, police investigations, criminal justice and lost economic output caused by a death.

Using the same analysis, 160,000 stabbings, assaults and violent crimes cost £2 billion.

Nearly 140,000 robberies led to losses of another £2 billion, 15,000 rapes £792 million, 136,000 sexual offences £1.1 billion, and other violence £664 million, the CSJ estimates from police, Office for National Statistics and Home Office data.

Worryingly, the report finds around a tenth of Londoners feel they are at risk of knife and gun-wielding gangs or know someone who is.

A similar number are aware of a friend or relative who has a firearm or previously possessed one.

As a result, the polling commissioned by the CSJ and conducted by Survation, said half of Londoners want to see police on the beat in their communities more often.

Support for stop and search to take deadly weapons off the streets has actually increased among those aged 18 to 24, compared to London as a whole.

Crime on the Tube has risen by more than 50pc in a year, including a substantial increase in robberies and thefts.

According to the latest data from Transport for London (TfL), offences are up 30pc across all services.

On the Underground there was an 83pc increase in thefts while robberies more than doubled, even though passenger numbers fell.

TfL said it was working closely with police to address current concerns.

The latest figures cover crimes recorded in the six months between April and September this year.

The number of offences on all TfL services, including the Elizabeth line, London buses and London Overground, rose from 17,160 last year to 22,294 this year.

Bus crime rose by 6pc, and the report says levels of reported theft and violence are “higher than expected”.

With bus passenger numbers rising slightly, the crime rate per million journeys stayed about the same.

However, on the Tube the 56pc rise in crime occurred despite a 11pc fall in passengers - leading the crime rate to rise sharply from 13.7 to 18.6 per million journeys.

About 40pc of all offences committed on London transport happened on the Tube, with King’s Cross St Pancras, Leicester Square and Oxford Circus the worst stations for theft.

The most offences were reported on the Northern line, followed by the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines.

Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond, said: “Londoners should be able to feel safe on their public transport, yet these shocking figures tell a different story.”

Also, muggings in London West End have tripled in the last two years, prompting concerns the crime wave threatens its future of shopping districts popular with wealthy tourists.

New figures show the number of thefts from a person in the area around Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square increased to 2,806 last year, compared to 796 in 2021.

Theft, which includes pick-pocketing and shoplifting, currently makes up around 60 per cent of crime in the West End. The figures were compiled by the Heart of London Business Alliance, which represents 600 local retailers, restaurants and property owners.

Ros Morgan, chief executive of the group, said: “Retail crime in the West End is not just a threat to businesses but to the entire community and luxury goods are no exception.

“There was a significant spike in shoplifting and a rising number of thefts across the West End in 2023. We have long called for a greater police presence to deter criminal activities and instil a sense of security.”

High-profile businessman Devin Narang recently used a summit with Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy to warn that Indian executives are putting off visiting London due to their fears about falling victim to crime.

Mr Narang said: “People are being mugged in the heart of London, in Mayfair - all CEOs in India have had an experience of physical mugging and the police not responding.”

Metropolitan Police figures show there were 72,756 of those crimes reported in the year to 2023, up from 57,468 in 2022.

Moped and e-bike gangs have been identified as prolific culprits.

In April 2022 former British boxing champion Amir Khan was accosted by a gunman who made off with his custom-made £72,000 watch as he left a restaurant in east London. And last July a machete-wielding teenager also targeted broadcaster and former chorister Aled Jones, taking his £17,000 Rolex. Scotland Yard revealed last month how a squad of undercover officers posing as victims carried out an unprecedented sting to capture the so-called Rolex Rippers responsible for a spate of violent watch muggings across the capital.