Low drug-related death rates hide middle-aged heroin problem

heroinLondon has the lowest rate of deaths caused by drug abuse for any region of England and Wales. Last year 226 people in the capital died as a result of taking drugs. Most of them were men and most of them were the result of an unintentional overdose.

In the early 90s London had the worst record in the country for drug related deaths. The number of people killed reached a peak at the end of the 90s.

Drugs death london

During that period rates in other regions of the country began to rise, particularly in the North West of England. In the 2000’s the rate in London began to fall gently and since 2011 London has had the lowest mortality rate. Last year there were 25.4 deaths per million people in the capital. In the North West of England the rate is over 60 per million and in the North East nearly 70. The North East has seen the biggest increase over 20 years. In 1993 its mortality rate for drug misuse was just 14 per million.

drugs national

The data is based on registered deaths where drug misuse is defined as the cause of death. The data is collected by the ONS. The national figures give some surprising insights into the demographics of drug abuse.

The group with the highest death rate through drug misuse are not young people, as might be assumed, but people 40-49. The number of heroin and morphine related deaths in this group for 2014 is the highest on record. People aged 30-39 have the second highest death rate. People in their 20s have a lower mortality for drug misuse than those in their 50s and 60s.

Drugs deaths age

Men are 2.5 times more likely than women to die from drug misuse. 79% of the male deaths were unintentional. The rate for women is slightly lower at 69% and women show a greater level of intentional self-harm.

The national data also shows a substantial increase in the number of deaths caused by heroin and morphine which have risen by two thirds between 2012 and 2014. Deaths caused by cocaine use have also increased.

The detailed data at local authority level is grouped in batches of 3 years. The picture for London for 2012-14 shows that the highest deaths rates are in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Islington. The lowest rates are in the outer boroughs of Merton, Hillingdon and Enfield.

Drugs death map


Source data

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Violence, disruption and drugs – why 20,000 pupils were excluded from school last year

Feeling secure? City merely moderate for citizen safety, says study

dreamstime_l_29077431How safe is out city? Only moderately so and a lot riskier than those in East Asia and many European capitals, according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Tokyo topped its index of 50 global cities measured by 44 data points, while London trailed in at 18th. Of London’s big global city rivals, New York came 10th and Paris ranked lower in 23rd place.

The EIU Safe Cities Index looked at 4 broad categories – digital security, health security, infrastructure safety and personal safety.

London performed best in the personal safety category where it managed 12th place. Personal safety looked at how secure citizens are from theft and violence. It examined police engagement, crime levels and political stability. 4 of the 5 top places went to Asian cities. Stockholm completed the top 5.

All European cities did poorly in digital security though London was the continent’s best performer in 16th place. This category measured the resources dedicated to ensuring that citizens can use the Internet and other digital technologies without fear of privacy violations or identity theft. Asian cities were, once again, the best performers and North American cities also scored well.

Despite the National Health Service London managed only 22nd place when it came to health security. European cities that also have universal health systems generally performed well in this category, which examined life expectancy, ratios of citizens to hospital beds and doctors, and pollution levels. As previously reported, emission levels and deaths attributed to NO2 remain high in London.

The capital’s worst performance was in infrastructure – the safety of the city’s roads and building and its resilience against disaster – where it came half way down the rankings at 25th.  Among the items measured were the frequency of road accidents and pedestrian safety. While accident rates are falling in London, pedestrians remain the most vulnerable, as previously reported by Urbs.

The EIU chose the 50 cities based on regional representation and the availability of data. The list included 7 from North America, 6 from Latin America, 13 European cities, 18 in Asia Pacific and 6 from the Middle East and Africa, though Johannesburg was the sole African city included.

Safe Cities Index 2015
Overall Digital Health Infrastructure Personal
1 Tokyo Tokyo Zurich Zurich Singapore
2 Singapore Singapore New York Melbourne Osaka
3 Osaka New York Brussels Sydney Tokyo
4 Stockholm Hong Kong Frankfurt Amsterdam Stockholm
5 Amsterdam Osaka Paris Tokyo Taipei
London (18) London (16) London (22) London (25) London (12)

Source data

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42 pedestrians and cyclists injured each week by hit and run drivers

Met reveals details of thousands of offenders on the run

dreamstimesmall_3584076-2Thousands of wanted offenders are on the run from the Metropolitan Police. The list includes 11 wanted for murder or attempted murder, 6 for rape, 93 for serious sexual offences and hundreds for assault including causing grievous bodily harm.

The total wanted list at the end of June had 4,607 offenders. More than 1,000 people on the list are wanted for theft. It also includes 434 suspected burglars, 469 alleged fraudsters, more than 750 people wanted for assault and 132 for possessing or supplying drugs.

In addition, there are warrants out for 4,965 who have been previously charged and failed to show up at court.

The police released the figures in response to a Freedom on Information request. They also revealed the numbers for the previous 2 years.

At the end of 2013 there were 4,225 people wanted for offences who had not been arrested and 4,239 warrants had been issued for those who had failed to turn up in court after being charged. At the end of 2014 the numbers had risen to 4,717 and 5,101 respectively.

The police say that a number of suspected criminals on the wanted list may have left the country. They also point out that the numbers include warrants issued for other prosecuting agencies such as the Department for Work and Pensions and local authorities.

Source data

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Crime down nearly a third in 5 years on buses, Tube and trains

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded

Supermarket shoplifting is up by a fifth since 2012

supermarket-2Shoplifting from supermarkets in London has gone up by more than 20% in 2 years to a rate of 260 incidents a week, according to the latest full year data.

In 2014, the police recorded 13,674 thefts from supermarkets compared to 11,293 in 2011 and 12,267 in 2013. The Metropolitan Police released the data in response to a Freedom of Information request.

A separate breakdown of the items stolen in 2013 shows alcohol is the most popular but food accounted for almost the same number of stolen items and was a quarter of all thefts.

The latest British Crime Survey shows that shoplifting was up by 3% across the UK last year and 4% the year before, while overall levels of crime were falling.

Estimates from the Centre for Retail Research say that customers stole goods valued at £2.2 billion from all shops in the UK in the financial year 2012-13.

Source data

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Rise in dog thefts hits outer boroughs hardest

dog walking3 or 4 dogs were stolen every week in London last year, and the numbers were up by around 15% on 2013. While dognapping is a relatively rare crime it can be traumatic when an animal that has become like a member of the family is taken away.

Figures released by the Metropolitan Police in response to a Freedom of Information request show that there were 190 reported dog thefts in 2014. This was up from 165 in 2013 and at a similar level to the 194 stolen in 2012.

Combining the numbers over the past three years shows that the greatest problem is in the outer boroughs of Greenwich, Croydon and Bromley. The highest numbers in inner city boroughs were in Lambeth and Southwark.

Dog theft

The lowest level of dog theft was recorded in Richmond with just 4 thefts over the 3 years.

Source data

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Do fewer offences mean better bike behaviour or laxer policing?

Brompton bikeThe number of recorded traffic offences by cyclists on London’s roads fell last year, and on current data looks like it will be down further in 2015.

Cycling has grown dramatically in central London in recent years, by 173% according to the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling, and TfL estimates that 570,000 journeys are taken each day by bike.

Data released by the Metropolitan Police for offences from 2007 to May this year under a Freedom of Information request showed that traffic violations went up quite sharply as that popularity grew.

The most common offences are cycling on a pavement and going through a red light. Both are subject to a fixed penalty notice fine of £50.

The number of fixed penalty notices handed out rose steadily until 2010 and then began to decline. 2013 stands out and the high number may be the result of a massive road safety campaign, Operation Safeway, at the end of that year. Designed with cycle safety it mind it ended up giving out more than 4,000 notices to cyclists in around 8 weeks.

cycle offences

In 2014 Fixed Penalty Notices went back to 2012 levels, and up unitl May 18th this year just 1,300 have been given out, 370 for cycling on the pavement and 946 for going through a red light.

The data also reveals that cycling while drunk or under the influence of drugs remains a rare charge. Riding a bike while drunk is an offence under the Road Traffic Act, but the more commonly used law is the 1872 Drunk in Charge of a Carriage. For legal purposes a bicycle qualifies as a carriage.

cycle drunk

Prosecutions peaked in 2010 with 22 but fell back to 8 last year. Up to May 18th this year 7 people had been charged

The number of offences is driven by two things, levels of police enforcement and how well cyclists are observing the law. This data doesn’t tell us which of these or what combination is affecting the numbers.

Source data

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42 pedestrians and cyclists injured each week by hit and run drivers

bikesMore than 1,200 pedestrians and over 1,000 cyclists were injured by hit and run drivers in London last year. The figures include 6 deaths – 4 people on foot and 2 on bikes.

This means that a fifth of all injuries to pedestrians and cyclists in 2014 were caused by drivers who didn’t stop. This equates to 6 people a day, or 42 each week and is an increase of 16% in pedestrian injured in hit and run incidents and a 13% rise for cyclists, compared to 2013.

Overall the number of hit and run collisions, including cars, fell marginally last year from 4,154 to 4,049. The figures were revealed in a written answer from the Mayor, Boris Johnson, to Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones.

Hit and run injuries 2014
Fatal Serious Slight Total
Pedestrian 4 132 1,076 1,212
Cyclist 2 91 921 1,014
Car 0 24 1,799 1,823

As the figures show, pedestrians and cyclists are far more vulnerable to death and serious injury.

Jenny Jones said: “There are far too many arrogant drivers who think they can get away with injuring someone, just as they think they can get away with breaking the rules on speeding, jumping red lights and using mobile phones.”

As previously reported by Urbs, fewer people were killed or seriously injured overall on the capital’s road last year. But injuries to cyclists were up. The GLA benchmarks road safety figures against the average for the years 2005-09. On this measure deaths and serious injuries to cyclists were up by 3% and minor injuries by 73% last year. TfL points out that since 2005 there has been a 92% increase in the number of journeys taken by bike.

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Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk

Pedestrians and cyclists push Westminster to top of road injuries list

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Thousands of women and girls with FGM living across London

Adjura had FGM reversal surgery before the birth of her daughter Dfid-Jesiica Lea Wikimedia commons-1

Adjura had FGM reversal surgery before her daughter’s birth. Photo: Jessica Lea/Dfid

As many as 87,000 women and girls living in London may have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). They range from young children to women over 50 and make up 60% of all women with FGM in the UK.

The borough of Southwark is believed to have the highest number of females affected with an estimated 6,900. Brent has 6,024 and there are nearly 5,000 in both Lambeth and Newham.

The data comes from a study by City University and the human rights organisation Equality Now. They found that there are women and girls with FGM in all local authorities across the country but the 10 boroughs with the highest rates were all in London.


Outside London there is a high incidence in parts of Manchester, Birmingham, Slough, Bristol and Leicester.

Female genital mutilation involves the removal of all or part of the external female genitalia. In many African countries it is traditional practice carried out to control female sexuality and is often linked to the marriageability of girls and family “honour”.

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Women undergoing FGM suffer severe pain and the procedure can cause shock, haemorrhage, and fatal infections.  Longer term, women suffer can suffer chronic pain.

The study used survey data gathered by Unicef and USAID on the prevalence of FGM in 28 African countries plus Iraq and Yemen. In some countries, particularly in the horn of Africa, such as Somalia, FGM is near universally carried out.

Researchers applied this prevalence data to information from the 2011 census on the females born in these countries living in the UK.

Professor Alison Macfarlane of City University said: “These estimates have limitations as they assume that the women who have migrated are typical of women in their country as a whole which may well not be the case. They are needed as it is difficult to collect data directly about the numbers of women affected.”

The study was funded by the Home Office and the charity The London Trust. The purpose of the study is provide information for professionals to plan support service for women with FGM and safeguard those at risk.

The study also looked at the number of daughters born to women with FGM as these girls may be at particular risk. Researchers estimate that between 2005-13 nearly 31,000 girls were born to mothers with FGM in London.

Female genital mutilation was made criminal offence in the UK in 2003 but to date there has been no successful prosecution.

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Time to celebrate but there’s no pride in a rise in homophobic attacks

Ross Burgess LGBT History Project Creative Commons-2

Photo © Ross Burgess, LGBT History Project ┃Creative Commons

Hundreds of thousands of people will converge on central London on Saturday for the Pride in London parade, the culmination of a week of activities and the biggest LGBT event in the UK.   But despite the celebration and positive sentiment towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that Pride brings out there is darker undercurrent in London – homophobic attacks are up by 50% in the past 18 months.

Data from the Metropolitan Police shows that in the 12 months to the end of April this year attacks reached a new peak with 1,595 crimes reported. Urbs London measured homophobic attacks over 12 month rolling periods from April 2008. As the chart below shows, attacks rose  until September 2010 and then began to fell back to 1,058 in the 12 months ending in August 2013. Since then attacks have risen to the new peak.

homophobic attacks trend

There seems to be a seasonal element to homophobic crime.  Looking at the data by month over the the full calendar years for the period 2009 to 2014 shows monthly averages higher in June and July.

homophobic attacks seasonal

It is not clear from the data, which is based on recorded crimes, how much of the increase is due to better reporting of incidents. Homophobic attacks are classified as a hate crime, and the Met records more hate crimes than any other police service in the UK. But the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, says that it is a category of crime that remains under-reported.

A hate crime is defined as one “which is perceived,
by the victim or any other person, to
 be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic; specifically actual or perceived race, religion/faith, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.”

Homophobic attacks make up about 10% of hate crimes in London. 75% are based on race and religion.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime last year embarked upon a hate crime reduction strategy based on 3 objectives – improved reporting, prevention and achieving swifter justice for victims. In setting out the strategy the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greelagh, said, “These crimes are rare, but we recognise that society must change to tackle the root causes. Where hate crime occurs we owe it to all Londoners to work as hard as we can to seek justice and enable victims to cope and recover.”

Source data

See also

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded



Crime down nearly a third in 5 years on buses, Tube and trains

© Anizza | Dreamstime.com-2If you have been on a particularly rowdy or perhaps scary night bus journey you may find this hard to believe, but travelling on public transport in London has become much safer in the past 5 years.

Crime across the network, which includes buses, Underground, DLR, Overground and Tramlink, fell by 31% from March 2010 to March 2015. In the year to the end of March 28,154 crimes were recorded by the British Transport Police and the Metropolitan Police. The British Transport Police has responsibility for train and tram services, the Met looks after the buses.

Nearly all the offences took place on buses, Underground or DLR. There were 17,000 crimes on buses and arond 10,000 on the Tube and DLR. Figures for Underground and DLR are combined as they are policed by the same unit of the British Transport Police.   Bus crime alone fell by 31% in the period. Offences were down by 34% on the Tube and DLR.

Transport crime

Each day 24 million journeys are made across the London public transport network. The crime rate, as expressed by crimes per million passenger journeys has fallen across all modes of transport. On the buses there are 7.7 crimes per million journeys, on the tube and DLR it is 7.1, but the Overground service has the lowest level at 4.1 crimes per million journeys.

In September the Night Tube service will be introduced providing all night trains each Friday and Saturday night on the Jubilee and Victoria lines, and most of the Piccadilly and Northern lines. With more late night revelers in the transport system it is likely that the crime figures may rise again.

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Availability of public transport below average in all outer boroughs