Nav: Home

Knife crime: Assault data can help forecast fatal stabbings in London, study suggests

April 14, 2019

Knife crime data from a 12-month period could be used to help forecast the London neighbourhoods most likely to suffer a fatal stabbing the following year, according to latest research.

Cambridge criminologists worked with a Metropolitan Police detective to show that the number of assaults resulting in knife injuries over one year correlated with an increased risk of deadly knife crime in the same small areas the next year.

DCI John J. Massey from the Met's Homicide Command manually trawled through thousands of knife crime records to pick out and "geo-code" incidents where people were stabbed and cut but survived during the 2016/17 financial year.

This may be the first dataset of non-fatal knife assault "hotspots" in the UK. Current crime statistics do not distinguish between incidents without injury - displaying of knives during robberies, for example - and those where knives have wounded.

Massey found 3543 knife assaults had occurred during the 12-month period: a ratio of 66 non-fatal stabbings for every knife homicide that year.

Each assault was coded to one of London's 4835 local census areas - some as small as a few football fields - and compared to the locations of the 97 homicides from the following 2017/18 financial year.

Some 2781 areas, over half of London, had no knife assaults at all in the first year. Of these areas, 1% saw a homicide in year two.

Of the 41 neighbourhoods that had six or more injuries from knife assaults in the first year, 15% went on to suffer a homicide the following year.

The researchers argue that this reveals a large increase in homicide risk: these top assault hot spots were 15 times more likely to suffer a knife homicide the following year than all areas - the majority of London - with no knife assaults.

They say that data on knife assaults provide a "consistent pattern" of greater knife homicide risk the next year. Census areas with two to four assaults had around a 4% risk of homicide in year two, and those with five assaults had a 9% risk. Six or more assaults equated to a 15% risk.

The researchers suggest that with the right technological approach, police could receive automated daily updates of homicide risk based on the latest data - helping to guide patrol allocations. The study is published today in the Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing.

"If assault data forecasts that a neighbourhood is more likely to experience knife homicide, police commanders might consider everything from closer monitoring of school exclusions to localised use of stop-and-search," said study co-author Prof Lawrence Sherman from the University of Cambridge.

"Better data is needed to fight knife homicide. The current definition of knife crime is too broad to be useful, and lumps together knife-enabled injuries with knife threats or even arrests for carrying knives."

"Police IT is in urgent need of refinement. Instead of just keeping case records for legal uses, the systems should be designed to detect crime patterns for prioritising targets. We need to transform IT from electronic filing cabinets into a daily crime forecasting tool," he said.

However, Sherman and colleagues caution that solely focusing on assault hotspots is not a "panacea". The 41 top hotspots in the study contained only 6% of the following year's total knife deaths.

The new study was co-authored by DCI Massey as part of his Master's thesis research at Cambridge's Institute of Criminology, where he worked with Sherman and his colleague Dr R. Timothy Coupe.

"These findings indicate that officers can be deployed in a smaller number of areas in the knowledge that they will have the best chances there to prevent knife-enabled homicides," Massey said.

No single area in the 2017/18 financial year had more than one fatal stabbing. However, 69% of the knife homicides occurred in census areas where at least one non-fatal knife assault had taken place the year before.

The study's authors say the last decade of deadly knife crime has been a "moving target". The research suggests little repetition of homicide locations. In the ten years up to 2018, there were 590 knife homicides across London spread over 523 different census areas.

The researchers write that geo-coding annual knife assaults to a census area provides a reliable - if far from perfect - basis for forecasting knife homicide.

Added Sherman: "When combined with intelligence-gathering on the streets, this form of data analysis could enhance the effectiveness of scarce resources to create a new and more powerful preventative toolkit. Our study is just the first step."
-end-


University of Cambridge

Related Injuries Articles:

Generating improvement in spinal cord injuries
Results from an ongoing treatment for spinal cord injury research study were announced on Jan.
Genitourinary injuries challenge returning US servicemen
In an article in The Journal of Urology, researchers from the US military medical community have examined the extent and severity of genitourinary injuries among nearly 1,400 US service members (SMs) and emphasize the critical need for novel treatments to improve sexual, urinary, or reproductive function among those with severe genital injury.
Many alcohol-related injuries occur at home
Of all alcohol-related injuries in various public hospital emergency departments in Queensland, Australia, more occurred at home than at licensed premises.
Don't freestyle 'swimmer's shoulder' injuries
Elite and competitive swimmers log between 60,000 and 80,000 meters weekly -- swimming the length of an Olympic-sized pool 1,200 times -- which places significant stress on their shoulder joints.
Hamstring injuries in baseball may be preventable
Creating a program to prevent hamstring injuries in minor league and major league baseball players might be a possibility say researchers presenting their work today at the American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine's Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo.
New technology could deliver drugs to brain injuries
A new study led by scientists at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute describes a technology that could lead to new therapeutics for traumatic brain injuries.
Could flies help us understand brain injuries?
A new study led by SDSU scientists suggests that using fruit flies as a traumatic brain injury model may hold the key to identifying important genes and pathways that promote the repair of and minimize damage to the nervous system.
Why are women more prone to knee injuries than men?
Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found that women who take the birth control pill, which lessen and stabilize estrogen levels, were less likely to suffer serious knee injuries.
Global toll of injuries down by almost a third since 1990
The global toll taken by injuries on daily life has fallen by almost a third in the past quarter of a century, reveals research published online in the journal Injury Prevention.
Surge in bicycle injuries to riders over 45
The incidence of bicycle accidents has increased significantly in the US in recent years, with many serious injuries occurring among riders older than 45, according to a new study led by UCSF.

Related Injuries Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...