Crime entered the top six issues for Londoners in the first few months of 2018, following numerous violent crimes across the capital, despite the growth in overall crime slowing. Councils housed over 54,000 households in temporary accommodation in the final quarter of 2017, but could not find suitable places for a further 1,600.
Brexit continues to be top of Londoners’ concerns, as highlighted by this Ipsos data, with 44 per cent of those surveyed across the first quarter of 2018 spontaneously mentioning it. A close second was the NHS, up five percentage points on the last quarter, perhaps because of greater media scrutiny and attention on the winter crisis. But London’s concern over healthcare is dwarfed by GB’s overall, showing an 11 point difference, perhaps reflecting the relatively high quality of healthcare in the capital (see healthcare section). Crime enters the top six concerns for the first time, probably as a result of a spate of violent attacks in the capital over the quarter, and housing has also attracted more mentions in the capital.
Admissions to over 60 of London’s top attractions fell by over ten per cent in the final quarter of 2017. Analysis from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions suggests that economic factors and the costs associated with a day out to central London were the main cause behind falling admissions. There is a continuing trend for London’s visitors to prefer free and central locations; across the quarter, two thirds of admissions were to free venues, and 9 out of 10 visitors chose attractions in zone 1.
Knife crime in London has been particularly prominent and visible in the last few weeks and months, as a spate of injuries and murders have made front page news. As the Issues Index identifies, this has translated into more Londoners being worried about it, although as research suggests, concern about being a victim of crime varies across ethnic groups.
While the rate of notifiable offences has been rising slowly since early 2014, after a long period of decline, this increase has slowed over the last few months: the three months to March 2018 had only 2 per cent more offences than the same period in 2017, although this may be partly due to the recent cold weather, as research suggests.
Violent crimes continue to rise faster than overall offences, by 2.5 per cent over this period, while knife crime rose 4.5 per cent (compared to much higher rises in previous months).
Murders, however, over this period were almost double the first three months of 2017, with 45 occurrences in the first three months of this year across the capital. This reflects the national trend of a rise in rare, but high harm crimes over the last two years. New measures have been introduced to tackle the increasingly visual problem of knife crime and youth violence, including the Mayors’ ‘London Needs You Alive’ campaign and Government setting up a Serious Violence Taskforce.
Rough sleeping and homelessness
The number of individuals recorded as sleeping rough during the final three months of 2017 in London fell by seven per cent compared to the previous year, to 2,630. This overall figure masks a slight rise in those people counted as living on the street, which – at 384 – is near the three-year average, but higher than in recent quarters.
“Behind the rough sleeping figures are people living each day at risk of violence, abuse and serious ill health. At St Mungo’s we have evidence of this from the people themselves, from our outreach teams and our research with people who have experienced rough sleeping. With almost 5,000 people sleeping rough in London for the first time last year, finding ways to intervene before someone ends up on the street is crucial to tackling the problem. The Homelessness Reduction Act is a hugely positive move in the right direction, using new legal duties to shift the focus of councils in England towards providing help to prevent homelessness in the first place. But if the Act is to be a success, councils must be able to help those in danger of sleeping rough find the right housing and support. Sadly, the reality is the unacceptable shortage of affordable housing options for too many people in London.”
Beatrice Orchard, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Research, St. Mungo’s
Figures also show that over 54,000 households (nearly 15 in every 1,000 London households) were being housed in temporary by their council at the end of the year. This number seems to have flattened out over the last few quarters. A further 1,600 had a duty owed to them but with nothing secured, which is over 70 per cent higher than the same point last year and the highest point on record by a significant margin, reflecting difficulties in finding appropriate temporary accommodation. Research suggests the main cause of statutory homelessness is termination of private rental contracts.
Payments from the new Homelessness Reduction Act began to be made in April, which provides councils with £61 million of funding to meet new responsibilities to homeless individuals.
There were 8,365 reported casualties on London’s roads in the third quarter of 2017, resulting from just under 7,000 separate collisions. The number of deaths during this period was 27, slightly below the 5-year average of 30 for this quarter.
Pedestrians continue to be the most vulnerable road user, accounting for over half of the total fatalities, and more than one third of serious injuries, in the 12 months to September 2017. The number of pedestrian fatalities is higher than the year before, but 30 per cent below the 2005-9 average.