Number of black homicide victims at highest in nearly two decades

Ian Jones, PA
·3 min read

The number of black victims of homicide in England and Wales has climbed to its highest level in nearly two decades, figures show.

A total of 105 black victims were recorded in the 12 months to March 2020 – up from 96 the previous year, and the highest since the 12 months to March 2002.

Although the majority of homicide victims in 2019/20 were white, black people continued to record higher rates of victimisation.

In the three years to March 2020, the average homicide rate per million population was around five times higher for black victims than white people, and almost four times higher than other ethnicities.

The figures have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) based on data from the Home Office Homicide Index.

Homicide victims in England & Wales 2019/20 by age
(PA Graphics)

They provide a detailed breakdown of victims recorded by police forces in England and Wales by factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and circumstances.

The ONS said the figures show “clear differences” in the age profile of victims across different ethnic groups.

Around half (49%) of black victims in the year to March 2020 were in the 16 to 24 age group, compared with 25% for Asian people and 12% for white victims.

White victims were the most evenly spread across age groups, which the ONS said may partly reflect the different age distributions of ethnic groups in the population.

The overall homicide rate for black victims in the three years to March 2020 was 49.5 per million population – up by just over two-thirds from 29.5 in the three years to March 2014.

The rate for white victims in the three years to March 2020 was 9.4 per million population, up slightly from 8.1 in the three years to March 2014.

There were 275 homicides committed using a knife or other sharp instrument recorded in the year ending March 2020, up 6% year-on-year and the second highest total since the Homicide Index began in 1946.

The highest total was 281, in the year to March 2018.

The ONS said the rise in these type of homicides was driven by a 12% jump in the number of male victims, rising from 199 to 223, 68 of whom were men aged 18 to 24.

POLICE Homicide
(PA Graphics)

Some 75 sharp instrument homicide victims, or just over a quarter (27%), were identified as black, an increase of 15 on the previous year and the highest annual total since 1996/97 when ethnicity started to be recorded on a consistent basis in the Homicide Index.

Of these 75 victims, 43 were aged 16 to 24.

Overall, the total number of victims of homicide in England and Wales in the year to March 2020 was 695 – 39 of whom were victims of human trafficking whose bodies were found in a lorry in Grays, Essex, in October 2019.

Excluding these victims, the number of homicides increased year-on-year by eight, or 1%.

The ONS said the incidence rate for homicide remains very low, with 11.7 homicides per million population in 2019/20, a similar rate to the previous three years.

Total homicides peaked in 2002/03 at 17.9 per million population, the highest since current records began in 1969. The figures for 2002/03 included the 173 victims of Dr Harold Shipman.