Crime: Where It’s Happening and How

Comparative statistics of crime rates around the world draws a surprising, if somewhat amusing, conclusion – the world we now live in is a safer place than before.

Crime in the only remaining superpower is seen to be declining. In US, street crime hovers near historic lows – hence the declaration of certain analysts that life in US has never been safer. And with the apparently downward trend of criminal activities all over the world, the world appears to be a friendlier place – notwithstanding terrorism. This is in sharp contrast to the perception that the world is getting more dangerous everyday.

Though the United States still ranks among the highest in violent crimes among industrialized nations, and also in overall crime, the country is enjoying a decline in crime numbers, nevertheless. In the meantime, crime in many other nations – specifically in Eastern and Western Europe – appear intent on catching up. Low-crime societies like Denmark and Finland are ranking high among street crime rates in the present. Even countries absent from the crime radar are making themselves conspicuous – like another industrialized nation, Japan.

Comparative analysis of crime rate statistics around the world remains complicated. Different definitions of what constitutes a crime make official crime statistics undependable, for one. Still, the United Nation initiative of global crime rates tracking – the World Crime Survey – may offer the most realistic and reliable figures.

Other factors affecting crime levels are:

a. Difference in legal and criminal justice systems
b. Rates of crime report and police recording
c. Differences in the point at which a crime is measured – some countries believes it is the time when the offense is reported; others only do the recording when a suspect in identified and the papers are transferred to the prosecutor
d. Differences in the ruling of which multiple offenses are counted
e. Differences in the lost of offenses to be included in the whole crime figures
f. Differences in data quality

Using the United States as a point of reference, we arrive at the following conclusions:

Burglary – Widely believed as the gravest of property crimes, burglary is lower in US today than in the 80s. As of 2000, US has lower rates than Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, and Wales. It has higher rates than Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Spain.
Homicide – US had been consistently high in homicide rates than most of the Western countries from 1980 – 2000. Though the rate was cut almost in half in the 90s, it is still higher than all nations without political and social turmoil with the 2000 rate of 5.5 homicides per 100,000 people. Countries entrenched in turmoil like Colombia and South Africa, had 63 homicides per 100,000 and 51, respectively.

Rape – In the 80s and 90s, US rates were higher than most of the Western countries, but by 2000, Canada is leading. Rape reports are lower in Asia and the Middle East.

Robbery – The past 2 decades saw a steady decline in the US. Countries with more reported robberies than US include England, Wales, Portugal, and Spain. Those with fewer are France, Germany, and Italy, and Asian countries plus the Middle East.

In overall crimes (the total of all mentioned crimes), US ranks the highest, followed by Germany, United Kingdom, France, and South Africa.

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