THE murder rate in Inverclyde is higher than anywhere else in the UK according to a new study.

Over the last five years, the number of homicides locally as a proportion of the population was greater than any other part of the country, including London.

Research based on official government and police figures confirmed 11 murders in Inverclyde during that time period.

This means Inverclyde has a rate of 14 homicides per 100,000 people.

Senior local law enforcement officers today stressed it was important to put the figures into context and say that our streets are safe.

They also noted there has not been a murder so far during their current operational year, which started on April 1, 2018.

Chief Superintendent Gordon Crossan, divisional commander for Inverclyde and Renfrewshire, said: "Whilst the figures may alarm people, there is context to them.

"Inverclyde is a really safe place to be and during the equivalent time period this year we have had no murders."

Mr Crossan said five of the 11 homicides in total were recorded in the last year - between April 2017 and 2018 - with four of the deaths taking place during the period while the other alleged killing is an historical case.

He pointed out that three of the deaths occurred within houses.

Ch Supt Crossan said: "When you look at London, for example, you're getting young people being murdered in the streets and that's not a culture we've had here.

"Telegraph readers may read the figures and be alarmed but please don't be."