The number of black victims of homicide in England and Wales has climbed to its highest level in nearly two decades, official figures have revealed.
A total of 105 black victims of murder and manslaughter 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, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Black people are more likely to be victims of homicide, the figures show. About 15% of all victims in the period were black, but only 3% of the general population are black. Sixty-four per cent of victims were white, while white people make up 85% of the general population.
In the three years to March last year, the average homicide rate per million population, at 49.5, was about five times higher for black people than white people, at 9.4. The rate of victimisation for black people has soared, a 70% increase when compared with the three years to March 2014.
The figures also show black people are more likely to be perpetrators of homicide and murder. Approximately one in five – or 21% – of convicted suspects were black. About 67% of suspects convicted of homicide were identified as white.
The ONS said the figures showed “clear differences” in the age profile of victims across different ethnic groups.
Approximately 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.
The most common method of killing, for both male and female victims of all ethnicities, was by a knife or other sharp instrument. There were 275 homicides committed using a sharp instrument recorded in the year ending March 2020, 40% of all killings and up 6% year on year.
The ONS said the rise in this 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.
Seventy-five 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.
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 remained very low, with 11.7 homicides per million population in 2019-20, a similar rate to the previous three years.