United States: Murders increase by almost 30% in last year, FBI data shows

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The number of murders in the United States rose by nearly 30% last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in its annual crime report on Monday.

Overall violent crime also increased for the first time in four years, a surge that experts say is partly linked to hardships caused by COVID-19.

Murder and non-negligent manslaughter offences in the US went up by 29.4% in 2020, when compared to the previous year - the largest yearly increase since records began in the 1960s.

Overall violent crime rose by 5.6%, to nearly 1.3 million incidents. But property-related crime fell by 7.8%, to nearly 6.5 million incidents, the 18th year in a row that it has decreased.

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting programme collects data reported by law enforcement agencies across the US.

A greater number of homicides were the result of gun violence - 76% in 2020 compared to 73% in 2019, with Houston, Texas recording a 55% increase in gun-related murders.

According to the FBI's data, there were 343 gun-related murders in Houston last year, compared to 221 in 2019.

President Joe Biden has focused on gun violence as part of his anti-crime policy, calling for greater cooperation between local and federal leaders.

He has also pledged reforms to firearm laws and in June unveiled measures to reduce the flow of guns used in crimes.

Mr Biden has also announced measures to hold rogue firearm dealers accountable for violating federal laws and help states hire more police officers using COVID-19 rescue funds.

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