Police refuse to release list of murder victims

The Metropolitan Police is now refusing to release full lists of murder victims under the Freedom of Information Act – making it more difficult to check their figures.

Previously requests along these lines have been successful, such as the data featured in the Guardian article ‘Five years of London murders listed‘ and on our blog The Met’s Five Year List of Murders.

Most murders are publicised in one way or the other, whether through media reports, police appeals or court cases. But often our figures do not match up to those provided by the police. So when we attempted to get a list of homicide victims for the years 2012, 2013, 2014 in an attempt to check whether we had missed any cases, our request was refused. Instead we were allowed only total figures:

2012 – 106
2013 – 109
2014 – 92

We also asked for a breakdown by nationality, but the Met were not prepared to give figures for any nationality where the number was less than 5. As a result, the statistics for the three years in total read:

UK 106
Poland 12
Lithuania 5
Somalia 5

The nationalities with less than five victims are: US, Cyprus, Russia, Spain, Nigeria, Latvia, Turkey, Jamaica, China, Australia, Pakistan, Ghana, Albania, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Kosovo, Rwanda, Hungary, India, Portugal, Italy, Bangladesh, Kenya, Algeria, Iran, Fiji, Ireland, South Africa, Bulgaria, Columbia, Vietnam.

When we asked for a review of the decision, on the basis that similar requests had been granted, we were told: ‘Every FoIA request received by the MPS is considered on a case-by-case basis and no precedent is set by previous non-disclosures or disclosures as in this case, where a public authority may have previously released similar information in the past.’

The reasons for giving only a partial disclosure are that:

  1. Disclosure of information contained within the requested information… would have a negative effect on the relationship between the police and victims or witnesses of incidents who would expect that information provided to the police would be held in confidence and that publication of information by way of a freedom of information request would damage this trust, potentially impacting on the flow of information into the MPS
  2. To disclose any additional information may harm the MPS in its ability in the prevention and detection of crime and the apprehension or prosecution of offenders
  3. Disclosure of the names of the victims, would be likely to cause distress to their families, as there would be no reasonable expectation that the MPS would release this information without the consent of the family.

We understand and accept the third objection, but continue to believe that the public interest is in the identity of all homicide victims being in the public domain rather than kept secret for whatever reason.

‘It is like the justice system has given up’

Sometimes the justice system fails the family of murder victims.

Five years ago Nattallie Correa, 27, was found battered to death after a fire at her flat in Dagenham. Her boyfriend, who escaped the blaze with her two youngest children, was charged but acquitted after a retrial at the Old Bailey.

Nattallie’s family are now left in limbo.

As her sister Mellissa says in a letter to murdermap:

The worst thing is the murderer is walking free right now due to the justice system. It is a disgrace and the pain my family are still going through is never going to leave us, because it is like the justice system has given up on the whole case, when really someone from outside the case should look over everything properly because my sister is too special to get forgotten about.

My sister’s case is listed as unsolved. So what does that mean that she murdered herself and set herself on fire? Please if anything at all could be re-looked in to or could be done please we will be so grateful or please let me know if I could do anything by myself to get my sister’s case open again. I need help I can’t forget what has happened and I will never give up on my sister’s memory.

Mellissa still remembers the day that she was told about her sister’s death.

On the 19th November 2009 at 4am in the morning I got a knock on my address, I answered the door it was a police constable standing there he asked if I was Mellissa Correa and could he come in I said yes his first words was could I sit down I went no tell me what’s wrong please, he’ said I’m so sorry there has been a fire at your sister’s address and the children and the male are out safe but I’m sorry your sister was inside and has been pronounced dead, my heart felt like it crushed I fell to the floor and lost my breath crying, the first words I cried out to the officer was no it isn’t true my sister has never smoked or had candles lit at night, never, I said there’s something seriously
wrong here I tell you. That afternoon the police came and informed us that my sister was murdered the family were distraught even more.

Mellissa also accuses the police for a ‘lack of effort and commitment’ during their investigation. She adds:

Hopefully my sister’s case will get looked at carefully and thoroughly like it should have been in the first place.

Anyone with new information should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Is the murder rate rising again?

An article in The Times newspaper last week  (Three deaths in a weekend sends murder rate soaring) highlighted the increase in London homicides so far this year.

In January and February 2015 we counted 26 homicides compared to 12 across January and February 2015.

So does this suggest a new trend or is it just an unusual spike?

A look at the Metropolitan Police’s rolling 12 month homicide figures suggests the last two years (up to January 2015) both saw 104 homicides, suggesting this is just a spike after a very quiet summer and autumn of 2014.

It should also be noted that we counted 12 homicides in March 2014 (equal to both January and February 2014 combined). As of today (14 March 2015) we only know of two homicides this month.

We will keep an eye on the statistics over the coming months and return to this subject in a later blog.

UPDATE on 4 April: We counted six homicides in March 2015, bringing the total to 32 this year, compared to 24 over the first three months of 2014.

Detected and Undetected Homicides 2003-2013

Last month the Metropolitan Police released data on the number of homicides between 2003 and 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act.

The data also reveals the number of homicides classed as ‘detected’ and ‘undetected’.

Sanction Detections refer to ‘police generated detections’ where the accused receives a punishment or sanction (charge, caution, summons) from the police.

Non-Sanction detections (Other) are used for cases resolved through administrative means, such as when the accused dies or the CPS decide not to prosecute.

The percentage of undetected homicides during this period range between six per cent (2009 and 2011) to 14 per cent (2007).

Year Offences Sanction Other Undetected 
2003 216 181 9 26
2004 188 171 3 14
2005 181 143 20 18
2006 172 147 3 22
2007 163 134 6 23
2008 155 140 1 14
2009 130 120 2 8
2010 125 111 1 13
2011 118 109 2 7
2012 106 94 2 10
2013 108 89 4 15

Other Freedom of Information releases include:

The number of homophobic and transgender hate homicides between financial years 2007/8 and 2012/13 (four homophobic and one transgender hate)

The nationalities of murder victims in 2013 (28 UK Nationals, 29 Overseas Nationals, 37 not recorded).

The nationalities of people proceeded against for murder 2009 – 2013

Review of 2014

The Metropolitan Police official homicide list gives  a total of 92 homicides for 2014 (for financial year see also http://www.met.police.uk/crimefigures/).

This figure, which includes murders, manslaughters, corporate manslaughters and infanticides, is a 15 per cent decrease on the previous year, 2013, with 109.

We have added 85 cases to the website for 2014 and are awaiting further updates on several others which have not been confirmed publicly as homicides (rather than suspicious or unexplained deaths).

This post and the graphics shown below will be updated as more information arrives. Updates will be listed at the end.

Looking at the confirmed cases for 2014 and comparing them to previous years, we can see that the number of shootings has reached a new low, while fatal knife attacks have increased.

The number of female victims also decreased to 22 (from 39 of 108 in 2013).

The number of teenage victims remains relatively low at eleven, compared to 12 in 2013.

Now here is the spread of victim ages for each year from 2011 to 2014. This shows that while most victims are aged between 21 and 30, the number of victims in this age range has almost halved during this period.

NOTE: This post was updated on 1 February 2015 to include the manslaughter of Tommy Main (previously classed as unexplained death) and on 14 February to include the manslaughter of William Boots (following the charging of the suspect). In May 2015 the manslaughter of Adam Hird was added after suspects were charged.