Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crime Rates Fall?

The FBI claim that crime rates in America have been falling for the last 20 years and current rates of robbery and murder are less than half of what they were back then. British figures also show a drop in crime over the same period.

There are many explanations for this and none is universally accepted. Here are a few:

1) The figures are massaged by the Government, ie a burglar breaks into 8 flats in a block or vandalises 15 cars parked in a line and it is reported as one single crime. Offences can also be reclassified, resulting in a drop in certain ones, which can then be applauded.

2) Better policing through increased computerisation, for example constantly updated databases showing which areas of a city currently have high levels of crime leads to more efficient patrolling.

3) Personal wealth has steadily increased on average whilst material possessions are cheaper than ever before. Combine this with the increased difficulty in selling stolen ones due to more common use of security measures such as password protection and invisible marking, along with more easily available credit. It has simply become easier to wave a credit card to buy a shiny gadget than to mug someone.

4) Both Britain and the US have more criminals behind bars than ever before. If they are in jail then they can't commit crimes.

5) New technology such as DNA databases and CCTV along with a general improvement in forensic techniques.

6) Crime rates simply follow a cyclical pattern pretty much like the economy does. When crime is high and we hear about it on the news every night, the general population become more vigilant and take more care to secure their property and possessions, leading to a drop. Then when crime becomes much rarer and we keep hearing that rates are low then we become careless and it starts to rise again.

7) People have more cheap entertainment to occupy themselves. Maybe potential criminals are too busy playing computer games or babbling on Facebook. Why steal a car when you can play Grand Theft Auto?

8) The increasingly short attention span of modern youth means that young muggers are simply not prepared to put in the necessary hours hanging about the streets waiting for a potential victim. Kids nowadays are used to central heating and do not cope well with the cold and wet conditions that are part and parcel of the street hood's life. The declining physical fitness of the young may also prevent them from running away if pursued by an angry OAP.

There's loads of other explanations and you should feel free to add your own.


Boy on a bike said...

Robbery rates are very low in areas where you can legally carry a handgun, either openly or concealed.

Erik said...

Due to the prevalence of cellphones, a lot of stupid criminals are not only caught on camera but plastered up on Facebook for the police to identify and arrest at leisure, while the intelligent ones hesitate to continue.

PTT said...

It's all down to number 4 more than anything else I suspect.

English Pensioner said...

Certainly US Burglary rates are far lower than here.
A new American neighbour asked me about the yellow boxes on the walls of houses, which I explained were burglar alarms. Apparently in the US these are only used for offices and shops as houses rarely get broken into for fear that the house owner has a gun and will use it. Similarly, muggings are low in those states where you are allowed to carry a handgun; the mugger has no idea whether or not you are a person who carries a gun and knows how to use it.

Tattyfalarr said...

British crime rates have dropped yet the prison population has doubled. Go figure. Someone is telling porky pies.

Benedict White said...

Crime rates across Europe have dropped as well, regardless of police numbers, numbers of prisoners or economics.

What that tells us is that there is no right answer other than that which you choose to believe.

Tick the boxes said...

There is one you may have missed. Small crime is not always reported, so stats may well show a decline because people, er, can't be bothered to report the loss of say a garden planter as nothing will or can ever be done about it.

Anonymous said...

clearly crime figures follow fashion - you cannor effect a rapid escape if your trousers are around your knees

Anonymous said...

"British crime rates have dropped yet the prison population has doubled. Go figure. Someone is telling porky pies."

You mean locking criminals up stops them committing as much crime. Who would have thought it.

Pendant said...

"ie a burglar" should be "eg a burglar".

Anonymous said...

The authors of freakonomics reckon that the introduction of abortion in the 1960s is having an impact on crime stats today

Selling a house said...

It looks good when crime rates are dropping, so the person in charge of each unit and the entire police force are praised/promoted,etc. This therefore changes the validity of any crime statistic.