List of major crimes in the United Kingdom

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This is a list of major crimes in the United Kingdom that received significant media coverage and/or led to changes in legislation.

Legally each deliberate and unlawful killing of a human being is murder;[1] there is no crime of assassination or serial killing as such, for example.

Child/teenage killings[edit]

Date Name of Incident No. of
Location Details
1946 The Murder of Muriel Drinkwater 1 Swansea, Wales Muriel Drinkwater, 12, was raped and murdered in the woods in Penllergaer, Swansea. The case became known as the Little Red Riding Hood murder. In 2008, a DNA profile of the suspect was extracted from her clothes, possibly the oldest one in the world to be successfully extracted in a murder investigation.[2]
1953 The Teddington towpath murders 2 Notting Hill, London, England Two girls went missing in Teddington and were found the next day, having been raped and murdered. After the country's biggest manhunt at the time, Alfred Charles Whiteway was arrested and charged. He was found guilty at his subsequent trial and hanged. The case was described at the time as "one of Scotland Yard's most notable triumphs in a century".[3]
1968 The Murder of Roy Tutill 1 Surrey, England Roy Tutill, 14, was raped and murdered on his way home from school. The case went unsolved for 33 years, until Brian Field was convicted of the crime after DNA evidence surfaced. In 2001, Field was sentenced to life in prison.[4]
1984 The murder of Mark Tildesley 1 Wokingham, Berkshire, England Seven-year-old Mark Tildesley disappeared while visiting a funfair in Wokingham, Berkshire, on the evening of 1 June 1984. He was lured away from the fair and his bicycle was found chained to railings nearby.[5] In 1990 it emerged that Mark had been abducted, drugged, tortured, raped and murdered by a London-based paedophile gang on the night he disappeared. However, his body has never been found.[5][6]
1994 The murder of Richard Everitt 1 London, England On 13 August 1994, 15-year-old Richard Everitt was stabbed to death in London in a racially motivated attack. Everitt's neighbourhood, Somers Town, had been the site of ethnic tensions, and although he was not involved in gangs, he was murdered by a gang of British Bangladeshis who were seeking revenge on another White British boy. The murderer was not apprehended, as members of the gang fled to Bangladesh. Badrul Miah and Showat Akbar were tried in 1995 as the ringleaders of the gang and were given life sentences, with minimum terms of 12 years and three years in custody respectively.[7]
2018 The Murder of Alesha MacPhail 1 Rothesay, Bute, Scotland Alesha MacPhail was a 6-year-old schoolgirl from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland who was reported missing from her grandparents' home on the Isle of Bute at 6:25am on 2 July 2018. She was staying with her father, Robert, and her grandparents, Calum and Angela MacPhail. It is claimed that Alesha's mother, Georgina Lochrane, 23, who could not be contacted immediately after Alesha went missing, found out about her daughter's disappearance and later death on the social media platform Facebook. Alesha's body was found in woodland on the site of an abandoned hotel, around 20 minutes walk from her grandparents' home. 16-year-old Aaron Campbell was eventually arrested and charged with Alesha's abduction, rape and murder and sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in jail.[8][9]

Individual murders[edit]

Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought.

Date Name of Incident No. of
Location Details
1840 The murder of Lord William Russell 1 London, England Russell's Swiss valet, François Courvoisier, murdered Russell after being accused of theft. Russell was the uncle of future prime minister Lord John Russell. A provincial doctor, Robert Blake Overton, wrote to the latter suggesting checking for fingerprints, but the suggestion, though followed up, did not lead to routine use of fingerprinting by the police for another 50 years.[10]
2017 The Murder of Joy Morgan 1 Hertfordshire, England Joy Morgan, was a British University student who was a member of the Church in the United Kingdom. Morgan was murdered by another member of the Church, Shofah-El Israel, in December 2017. Israel was convicted of her murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2019. Morgans remains were located after the trial in October 2019.[11]

Serial killings[edit]

Date Name of Incident No. of
Location Details
1865–1873 The Mary Ann Cotton murders 21 England Believed to have murdered up to 21 people, mainly by arsenic poisoning. Many of her victims had married her.[12]

Sex crimes[edit]

Date Name of Incident No. of
Location Details
1970s–1980s The Abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre Unknown Durham, England A prison for young male offenders where more than 1,800 living former inmates have reported sexual and physical abuse by staff.[13] Many of the prison guards are believed to have belonged to a paedophile ring.[14]
2010 The Derby sex gang Unknown Derby, England A group of men who sexually abused up to a hundred girls in Derby, in one of the most severe cases of sexual abuse in recent times. In 2010, after an undercover investigation by Derbyshire police, members of the group were charged with 75 offences relating to 26 girls. Nine of the 13 accused were convicted of grooming and raping girls between 12 and 18 years old.[15] The attacks provoked fierce discussion about race and sexual exploitation.


  1. ^ "murder". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  2. ^ Gabriel, Clare (5 November 2008). "Mystery of 1946 murder in woods". BBC News. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  3. ^ Cullen, Pamela V., A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr. John Bodkin Adams, London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  4. ^ "Man jailed for 1968 schoolboy murder". BBC News. 15 November 2001. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Cooke: The predatory paedophile". BBC News. 17 December 1999. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Paedophile gets life for killing boy, 7, at orgy: Homosexual ring abducted children and drugged them for group sex". The Independent. 23 October 1992. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Fear and loathing after 'racial' murder: Gangs of teenagers have vowed". 16 August 1994.
  8. ^ "Boy, 16, guilty of Alesha rape and murder". 21 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019 – via
  9. ^ "Alesha MacPhail murder: Life sentence for Aaron Campbell after he admits guilt". 21 March 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2019 – via
  10. ^ Alberge, Dalya (9 December 2012). "Vital clue ignored for 50 years". Independent. London. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  11. ^ "Joy Morgan: Murdered student 'may have been given drugs without knowing'". BBC News. 2021-01-20. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  12. ^ Flanders, Judith (2011). The Invention of Murder. London: Harper Press. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-00-724888-9.
  13. ^ "Medomsley: Prison officers who subjected vulnerable teenagers to daily abuse at detention centre jailed". Northern Echo. 4 April 2019. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  14. ^ "'Shock' over number of abuse claims". Belfast Telegraph. 29 March 2014. Archived from the original on 19 May 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  15. ^ Britten, Nick (25 November 2010). "Asian gang prowled streets searching for rape victims". The Daily Telegraph. London.