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The pressures of lockdown may have played a part in a rise in children killed in domestic homicides, Britain’s biggest police force today said.
A total of 12 children were killed in 2020, in London, up from 7 the previous year.
The Metropolitan police said all domestic child killings were being reviewed and a decline in mental health caused by restrictions to combat the pandemic, may have been a factor.
Overall homicides in the capital fell from 150 in 2019 to 126 in 2020, with a big fall in teenagers killed.
But domestic homicides rose from 16 in 2019 to 22 last year. Of those 12 were children aged 12 years or younger, where the suspect was a family member, usually a parent or guardian.
Commander Dave McLaren said he could not discuss individual cases with reviews under way to see if children could have been better protected and whether any warning signs were missed.
McLaren, asked if lockdown had been a factor, said: “It is fair to say that mental health has played a part in a number of those crimes this year and it isn’t a massive leap of faith to say that lockdown, has an impact on all of us in terms of our wellbeing.
“So I’m sure the impact of lockdown on the mental health of individuals, will have had an impact across the board.”
He added: “In terms of those cases, we have to see those reviews through and better understand the circumstances surrounding each of them before we get to the point of drawing a conclusion that there’s a direct correlation with lockdown.”
Among children killed last year were Dylan Freeman, found dead at in Acton, west London, on 15 August.
His mother Olga Freeman, 40, denies her son’s murder but has admitted manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility, a plea the prosecution accepted.
Dylan was found covered by a duvet with toys had been placed beside him.
In April 19-month-old Pavinya Nithiyakumar and her three-year-old brother, Nigish, were killed by their father Nadarajah Nithiyakumar. He has been ordered to be detained indefinitely in a psychiatric institution.
In 2020, most types of serious crime fell, with knife crime down 27%.
But some serious crime categories did not, despite the months of lockdown when fewer people were on the streets.
The Met said the number of incidents where guns were fired increased, from 266 in 2019 to 288 in 2020.
Knife crime with injury and grievous bodily harm fell during lockdown, then rose once restrictions lifted as simmering gang tensions boiled over.
Commander Jane Connors said: “As the restrictions were lifted, as we came out through May, June, July, and into the early part of August, we did start to see that the offence levels rose above pre-Covid levels.
“And that predominantly is because there were more people out on the streets, but also because some of the gang tensions that had been playing out on social media and people not able to take their reprisals, we did start to see a slight rise in some of the knife injuries that we were seeing.”
The force is monitoring social media as part of a raft of measures to thwart similar rises in violence when current lockdown measures are lifted.
McLaren said:“During the first lockdown, as a once-in-a-career situation, we were pretty unsure as to how crime trends would react coming out of lockdown.
“We saw that there were tensions that were growing between different groups, factions, gangs, that did ultimately result in an increase in firearms discharges in the months when we came out of lockdown.
He added: “As you would expect during this current lockdown, we are absolutely attuned, have learned from the previous lockdown and have activity ongoing just now to make sure that we are on the front foot targeting those individuals who we think may be a threat so that we don’t see that same rise when we come out of this current lockdown.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Lockdown may have played part in rise of domestic child killings, says Met | UK news