The Fluctuating Figures of London Knife Crime

As of May 4 2019, 28 people have been fatally stabbed in the city of London this year, as a result of an ongoing knife crime epidemic in the capital. In 2018, the number of homicides reached 135, which averaged out at more than one murder every three days – whilst it is currently averaging at one killing every four days (we are 122 days into the year), levels are still extremely high.

Over the seven years that the spreadsheet details, there was a seven percent increase in knife crimes recorded by the Metropolitan Police from 2011 to 2018 – 13,341 reports in 2011, and 14,695 in 2018. However, the number decreased dramatically from its current statistic in 2015, reaching a stable 9680 then slowly increasing back up to 12,061 in 2017 and reaching its highest number of the data set last year.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan controversially said in March 2019 that he has ‘done as much as he is allowed to do’ to tackle knife crime, and has been criticised online by the public and other politicians, who have said he is not doing enough. In April 2018, the Mayor launched Violent Crime Taskforce, a command of 300 polices officers that are dedicated to focus on the worst affected areas of knife crime, including Westminster, Newham and Lambeth. According to City Hall data, since its launch 13 months ago, the VCTF has seized 731 knives and arrested almost 4000 suspects.

Analysing the data set that I used to create my infographic, it is clear to see that Southwark is consistently the most common out of the 32 boroughs in London where one can be affected by knife crime; records show that there were 860 knife-related crimes reported to the police in the borough in 2018. This is just a 2% increase from the 842 affected by blades in the previous years analysis.

One thing visible from the data set is that between 2017 and 2018, the worst increases of knife crime in London boroughs came from Sutton (increase of 77%), Camden (+73%), and Havering (+69%). An article published in local newspaper The Camden Journal in February 2019, four months after the spreadsheets were published online by Parliament, revealed that local businesses in the area have began paying for private police protection due to the ‘dwindling number of officers in the area’. The number of police officers fell from 887 in 2010 to 631 in 2017, totalling a 256 strong loss in just seven years.

Since Theresa May became home secretary in 2010, and throughout her time as the British Prime Minister, the number of police officers on UK soil has fallen 21,500 nationwide. Because of this, it comes as no surprise that the Metropolitan Police Force are struggling to cope with the workload that the criminals of London are giving them.

Read the accompanying data set here.

Profile VT Assessment

For my VT groups profile interview, we chose to focus on Rosie O’Regan, a film student at London South Bank University. During her spare time, Rosie likes to make her own music, DJ at the University Student Union and do gardening in her student accommodation.

We thought that she would be an interesting character to profile for a target audience of other university attendees, as she breaks the mould of what many would consider a British student to be like. Before we went to her student accommodation to film the VT, we ensured that we had told Rosie everything that she would need to know of what we were wanting to do with the footage, and she was very enthusiastic about it too.

Georgie and I went to Rosie’s home to do the filming, and as well as filming a sit-down interview, we got a lot of extra bits to include in the VT as ‘B Roll’ shots; these included her producing a track from the beginning, talking us through the different plants in her allotment and a short clip of her DJ’ing in the Student Union (filmed a few days prior to shooting the VT). Once we got all the filming finished we sent it over to Alessia, who put it together.

From feedback from Rebecca and other students in the class, we learnt that to improve future profile style VT’s, we (as an interviewer) should not be featured on the camera, because it is not a news story – nor is it about the person that is interviewing. We also were told that it would have been better had we asked Rosie the questions but clipped it out, making it more of a direct to camera conversation featuring just Rosie.

Filming at Houses of Parliament

Filming our VT’s around Westminster on the morning of February 26th proved to be an interesting experience, as we learnt several things regarding the logistics of our idea.

We began with filming establishing shots that included Brexit protestors, EU flags and the Houses of Parliament. Using my iPhone XR video camera and a rented microphone, Georgie done the presenting whilst Alessia and I done on-screen interviewing. I think this would have looked a lot more professional had Georgie done all the interviewing and it was just her voice in the VT, as feedback showed that it looked quite messy.

From the feedback, we also realised that it didn’t look good how Alessia and I were sat on opposite sides of both our interviewees, as it looked unprofessional and we were having to stretch the microphone over each interviewee which didn’t look good.

I also learnt that in future VT’s, we should get the full name and occupation of every interviewee for future reference.

Next time, I think we need to plan ahead better. This is because our original VT was going to be about young British citizens views on Brexit, but the only young people we could find were two young women from Italy and Brazil, so our story was changed.

Brexit Voiceover – Improved

According to data analytics website You Gov, 70% of young adults aged 18-25 chose to remain in the European Union, whereas only 40% of people aged 65 and over felt the same. Three years on, the 70% has increased to 80% and the older generations statistic has not moved. We spoke to two international students who discussed how the Brexit outcome could change their view on our country, and their thoughts on the Labour party backing a second referendum.

Introduction to Broadcast Journalism – Workbook

Week One:

We were introduced to the iPod Touches and microphone equipment by Sam, and learnt what each microphone was for and when is appropriate to use it. Then we were taught about the Recorder app, which we can download on our personal iPhone’s to use for our university projects. We were split into our VT groups and interviewed students around the LSBU London Road building. The session was an overall introduction to the module, as we learnt what we will be doing for the rest of the semester.

Week Two:

We worked in our VT groups to think of a subject relating to university students to make our first video package for. Our group consists of me, Georgie, Alessia and Matt. We have chosen to do a package on smoking in universities. We filmed several different shots of staff and students smoking on campus. Then, we learned about the streaming service BOB and IRN, and how we can use them to aid our studies.

Week Three:

On the Wednesday morning, we had a voice training session with Vanessa. We learnt about adjusting our voice for radio / podcasting work, and how to articulate better.

Week Four:

We presented our smoking VT to the class, and received feedback on what went well and what could have been improved. Afterwards, we assessed how each other interpreted the Friday evening news. Later, we planned out our Brexit VT packages that we are going to film next week, and figured out who was going to do what.

Week Five:

We spent the day working around the Houses of Parliament. In the morning, we worked for Rebecca as a group, making our VT packages. In the afternoon, we all worked independently to create our own audio work regarding Brexit.

My Chosen Dataset – Acid Attacks

The dataset I am interested in researching is about the rise of acid attacks in the United Kingdom since the beginning of the twenty-first century. One particular statistic I am going to look at is how the National Police Chiefs Council revealed in April 2017 that ‘the UK has one of the highest rates of acid attacks in the world’, and that an ‘average two attacks a day’ are recorded by forces across the country.

The topic of acid attacks interests me because it seems that they are becoming as worryingly popular as knife crimes, especially in busy cities like London.

Using statistics from UK Police forces, I can create a dataset that demonstrates the rise in reported acid-related incidents in recent years. I would also like to acknowledge how the public have been made more aware of the life-long effects an acid attack can have through famous victims like TV personality Katie Piper, yet there are still people using the substance to scar others for life.

Developing News Stories – Using Datasets

Newcastle Chronicle – Young man stabbed to death outside of a Sunderland club

Over the weekend, an eighteen year old man was stabbed to death outside of a popular Sunderland nightlcub. With knife crime in todays youth becoming increasingly popular, I would be able to expand on the story of this incident by including data and statistics of the rising number of young people whose lives are affected by knife crime. If I was going to write an article about it, the angle I would write from is about the number of deaths from knife crime in the past year, and why is nothing being done about it.

The data sets I would use for my article would be:

  • How fatal stabbings are at their highest since records began in 1946
  • Why more youths are carrying knives with them
  • The epidemic of anti-social behaviour in North East England

Statistical Claims

After listening to Sarah O’Connor and Tim Harford’s interview regarding statistical claims, I now have a better understanding of what to do when faced with statistics I am uncertain of. For instance, at the beginning of the podcast, Harford encourages listeners to ‘observe our feelings’ when approaching statistical claims – he continues to say that if you take notice of your emotional reaction before thinking about whether the statistic is accurate you will have a better judgement when it comes to finding out the truth. Harford also encourages his listeners to be curious and to check where the statistics they see have came from, and briefly discusses how easy it is to see ‘facts’ on social media, then share them on without ever finding out where the information and data originated from.

When Harford spoke about causal and non-causal claims in the interview, I found it very interesting because there is so much the public are not aware of regarding statistics. He emphasises the type of information that is left out of a final data / statistic finding, and this could be because the evidence could be gathered from surveys and analysts the public are not aware of – however, since we see it online, we immediately believe it to be true.

The State of the Union – Infographics

When comparing different infographics regarding ‘State of the Union’ speeches from past American Presidents, it is simple to understand what data the publishers are trying to demonstrate.

The first infographic that I looked at was Vox’s 2016 chart on how the words used by Barack Obama in his speeches changed throughout eight years. The infographic is interesting to look at because the publisher has demonstrated their findings through bubble shapes that increase or decrease in size, depending on how often he used that word that year. For instance, from 2012-2013 we can immediately identify that Obama spoke about ‘jobs’ more than in past or future speeches; regardless of whether it was in a positive or negative way.

The second infographic that I looked at was one published in 2019 by the Washington Post, and it is centered around words used in President Trump’s speeches that have never been featured before, however it continues to do the same for all Presidents dating back to Bill Clinton. The infographic is slicker than those featured on the Vox website because the data collection was published on a broadsheet newspapers website. It approaches the data differently to the other infographics that I looked at because it is in simply black and white text, and no images were used.

The final infographic that I looked at was also published on Vox, and was about Barack Obama potentially being one of the ‘wordiest’ presidents in American history. This information was displayed through a bar chart infographic, and was done so as it is one of the simplest ways data can be interpreted. In contrast to the Washington Post infographic, data collections published by Vox are more interesting visually because it isn’t a broadsheet newspapers website. However, the publisher showed no bias in Barack Obama’s favour – this is demonstrated through the difference in Jimmy Carter’s thirty-five-thousand word written opus the day he left the White House. So just because Barack Obama was one of the Presidents whose speeches went on for the longest, it did not mean he was the overall most ‘wordy’.

Accuracies in Hollywood Film

When a film is said to be ‘based on a true story’, it allows its audience to feel a deeper connection to it – this is because they think that all the emotions and hardships shown in the tale have happened to people in the real world.

However, what the public don’t know is that several of these movies that are allegedly factual have only drawn inspiration from the true story. The website ‘information is beautiful‘ has formed a list of (as of now) seventeen films which claim to be accurate, but as demonstrated in the graph through data collection, are not.

For instance, 2014 drama film ‘Selma’ is shown to be 100% accurate through the collection of data from dozens of data sources, whereas ‘The Imitation Game’ (also released in the same year) has only a 42.3% accuracy rating.

Websites like Information is Beautiful are extremely important, especially to journalists. This is because a journalist could see the ‘based on a true story’ tagline and then sell a film to their readers using information from the real plot that is not used in the film – another reason as to why data collection on the website can make a significant difference to a writers work is because it can make a piece more authentic. If a journalist was to write a piece on facts they only thought were true but weren’t verified, they could be accused of getting caught up in the ‘fake news’ frenzy.