Worried about stabbings? Don’t be

Here’s a nice report by a real statistician on how London’s low murder rate is nothing to worry about unless you’re a gibbering paranoid ignorant fool.

Unsurprisingly, it’s received almost no media play at all. I mean, what news value is there in a study proving that the ‘OMG t3H knife crime!!!!’ narrative is bollocks and that there’s nothing to worry about…?

24 thoughts on “Worried about stabbings? Don’t be

  1. I must admit it's very satisfying to have something I've been banging on about for ages confirmed by someone with more letters around his name than I have.

  2. I must admit, my viewpoint is slightly coloured by the fact I was mugged at knifepoint a few yards from my front door. Call me gibbering and paranoid if you so wish (we put the house straight on the market and were gone within two months), but pleasant it is not.

    Maybe you'll see things slightly differently once you've been attacked or one of your relatives, friends or colleagues has been murdered, knowing that the police has not the slightest intention of bothering to try and catch them?

  3. Um, personal anecdote is not a reliable guide to reality. If it were, I would be arguing that there were obviously no muggings in London at knifepoint, since I've never been mugged at knifepoint or indeed attacked in any way in 12 years living here.

    Rationally speaking, if I'm able to accept that knifepoint muggings happen to other people, you ought to be able to admit that perhaps there isn't as big a problem as statistically biased news reporting can engender?

    Still, thanks for wishing myself and my relatives and colleagues harm to teach me the error of my looking-at-the-facts ways. Classy stuff.

    I notice you don't say when or where this occurred, too.

  4. I've never been mugged in London (and I've spent a lot of 'mugging time') in many bad parts, so I agree, although I'm sure my viewpoint is coloured, I don't believe there is ANY violent crime in our Capital.

    On the other hand when I have been a victim of crime the Police have been incredibly helpful, so I also believe people who say otherwise are liars. But call me paranoid.

  5. Tom, I also wandered around London happily for fourteen years assuming that this sort of thing happened to somebody else.

    To reply to your specific question, it happened at about 9.30 pm at the Church Lane car park in Leytonstone on Wednesday 31 October 2007, about fifty yards from my front door. I might even have the bit of paper with the crime number on it somewhere, if that's important to you.

    Matthew, 9.30pm is hardly "prime mugging time".

  6. Hmm, maybe – just maybe – there'd be less crime if people stopped telling potential criminals the police are shit and they'll probably get away with it.

  7. I think you can never have too little crime. Someone must have added up the costs of prevention which you almost do without noticing it, .e.g having to empty the car of any valuables each time you park it, or having to lock a bike up, take off all the lights etc when you stop (to mention two very minor examples which irritate me).

  8. Anecdote #1: I was beaten up (in Oxford, if we're doing place names) about 10 years ago, mugged (in Manchester) about eight years ago, and haven't had any trouble since.

    Anecdote #2: I had a bag nicked from the hallway of my house (in Finsbury Park) a couple of years ago, after an idiot flatmate left the front door open. I only reported it to get a replacement laptop and phone from work – but the police sent round a fingerprinting unit within a couple of hours, to dust the door for prints to match off against known local scrotes.

    Anecdote #3: a good friend of mine was mugged a couple of months ago, non-violently but scarily and at knifepoint (in Holloway). The police were extremely sympathetic, took a detailed statement and description, arrested the mugger that night, charged him straight away, and he's currently on remand awaiting trial for robbery.

    Even if you take those three as unrepresentative, Mark's suggestion that *anyone* in this country will ever be in a situation where a relative/friend has been murdered and the police are doing nothing to catch them is crazy nonsense – 89% of murders in London are solved; given that the police aren't perfect and some murderers are clever, it seems unlikely the explanation for the other 11% is just 'couldn't be bothered'.

  9. So, Mark – are you claiming that there are really lots more murders, that they have a different statistical distribution, or what?

  10. I gather that this statistical genius went back as far as, wait for it, 2004, to come to his conclusion. Yeeees, quite! Perhaps he might have gone back to, say, 1960 and plotted the total number of knife killings in London, year by year, since then. That might have told us something useful instead of something both asinine and redundant.

  11. I think your headline is a bit misleading here. The article seems to be saying that four murders in a day is not unexpected in statistical terms, based on the overall level of murders we are experiencing. That's not to say that we shouldn't be worried about the possibility of being murdered.

  12. Alex, whether or not multiple stabbings on one day is usual or unusual is only of arcane interest. What is of extreme interest, or at least, it should be, is how many stabbings occurred year by year from 1960 until today. If, as I suspect, it shows a huge rise then, notwithstanding our host's apathy, I suggest that it is something about which we should all be alarmed.

    I notice, without surprise in this day and age, that neither our host nor any of the commenters remarked on the shocking fact of several lives a year being brought to a brutal and premature end. The prevalent opinion seems to be that so long as it doesn't happen to them, why worry?

  13. I notice, without surprise in this day and age, that neither our host nor any of the commenters remarked on the shocking fact of several lives a year being brought to a brutal and premature end. The prevalent opinion seems to be that so long as it doesn’t happen to them, why worry?

    Well, David old fruit, I notice that you have remained silent for this entire thread on the continuing violent unrest in Pakistan. Are we to assume that you don't really care about mass murder as long as it's happening to foreigners?

  14. Well, most of the people being murdered in London are foreigners, so, on those grounds, I have a perfect excuse for not giving a stuff about their violent deaths, and you can't criticise me for it.

  15. Oh dear, does this really need explaining?

    They are on *our* streets, they exist as part of *our* social fabric and the murderers come under *our* criminal/justice jurisdiction and finally, they could murder you or me.

    Now do stop trying to be clever, Ajay, and just stick to the topic in hand.

  16. Oh, whereas everyone knows that there's no way violent unrest in Pakistan could have any effect on our streets, our society, or our personal safety, right?

    To be honest, though, the point I was trying to make is that you are attempting to argue "because you have not mentioned $BADTHING you must therefore approve of it!" – an asinine line of bad-faith argument which I would love to be able to say was beneath you.

  17. Nowhere did I write, or even imply, that anyone here *approved* of these murders. What I indicated was that the arcane debate concerning statistics appeared to be more important than the fact that several people had had their lives snuffed out prematurely and that perhaps something should be done to rectify the situation without being accused of panic by smug, complacent, self-satisfied I'm-alright-Jacks!

  18. DD 1: Nowhere did I write, or even imply, that anyone here *approved* of these murders.

    DD 2: The prevalent opinion seems to be that so long as it doesn’t happen to them, why worry?

  19. Precisely and exactly so, Ajay, and as an apparent expert in semantics perhaps you explain how the second quote could be construed as meaning 'approval'. I could understand 'complacent', but then I would, wouldn't I, because that is what I meant.

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