Crime rates: What do they say about us


FAQ on Crime rate in the U.S. & the World

The fact is that criminal activities are not restricted to any particular country or continent. Rather, is spread the world over, with some regions experiencing more and others less. It has been acknowledged that America in current times does not witness more crimes when compared to other countries of the world. The citizens here simply seem to have more guns!

The recent shooting in U.S. similar to the mass murders committed before is definitely a subject of debate. Why gun murders are of high rates here and by far considered to be the highest among the developed nations of the world? Is there anything else that is occurring? Or could it be the cultural differences or income inequality that makes the U.S. much more prone towards crime?

The findings of the study conducted in 1997 revealed that the U.S. does witness crime, but much lesser than other developed countries. However, the crime committed here is quite lethal with American criminals killing people when compared to their counterparts belonging to other similar type of countries. Easy accessibility to guns is what actually makes this huge difference. Hence, crime exactly is not the problem faced in the U.S.

Firearm related homicides per one million people for 2012

  • 1.4 – Australia
  • 1.6 – New Zealand
  • 1.9 – Germany
  • 2.2 – Austria
  • 2.7 – Denmark
  • 3.3 – Netherlands
  • 4.1 – Sweden
  • 4.5 – Finland
  • 4.8 – Ireland
  • 5.1 – Canada
  • 6.2 – Luxembourg
  • 6.8 – Belgium
  • 7.7 – Switzerland
  • 29.7 – United States

According to the subject experts, common property crime rates in the U.S. are quite comparable when compared to the ones reported by other western nations. However, the U.S. does witness higher lethal violence rates. But violence cannot be termed to be a crime problem here.

This opinion was reached by the experts after analyzing 20 developed nations with regards to rates of overall crime rates & violent death. No connection was found virtually between them, thereby indicating that violent death in the country was not exactly determined by overall crime levels.

  • England being among the countries with lowest death rate has crime rate just above average.
  • Japan is the next one with lowest crime rates.
  • The third one is Netherlands in this bracket.

The data compiled offers very clear example of the U.S. facing an issue of lethal violence, considered to be the main problem. Although the U.S. is clubbed with other developed industrial nations with regards to crime rate, when violent death is concerned, it is much higher.

Rape and robbery rates are stated to be among the top reasons for high crime rates in this country. Presence of firearms even in less tense situations tends to become more deadly, as there is escalation of violence and resulting in killing.

Therefore, the conclusion is that guns are the real problem here in the U.S. and not criminality per-se!

How is crime rate calculated?

Crime rates tend to describe crimes that are reported periodically to the law enforcement agencies for 100,000 population. It is rather calculated with division of reported crime number by total population. Then the result availed is multiplied with 100,000. For instance, in California there were committed 58,100 robberies in 2010 and population was around 38,826,898. For 100,000 population, the robbery crime rate then stood at 149.6.

What are the different causes for crime to occur?

Crime does occur in every country across the globe. Although no clear reason is present for crimes to be committed, there are however, few factors which do attribute towards increasing crime rates. Areas or countries that experience low job availability and high poverty levels do witness higher crime rates.

There is also found a strong correlation between crime and age. Majority of the crimes the world over, especially those that are violent in nature are committed by those in the age bracket of 20 to 30 years.

It is Venezuela that tops the list with 84.86. The reason is cited due to poor economic and political environment in this country. There take places violent crimes like kidnapping and murder, which is only increasing annually. This country also has the world’s 2nd highest murder rate.

The U.S. experiences crime rate of 46.73. However, the last 25 years has witnessed tremendous reduction in violent crime rates. Also, it tends to vary significantly between states. Tennessee & Alaska experience higher crime rates when compared to states like New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

Lower crime rates reported across the globe are in countries like Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Japan. They have in place effective law enforcement and stringent gun laws. Countries like Austria witness petty crimes like pick pocketing or purse snatching.

Has the crime rate increased?

Studies have revealed that there has been a significant decline in global homicide rates. The last three decades has witnessed parallel homicide reduction in many parts of the world.

Despite there are unique cultures, systems of governance and criminal justice policies, countries in Europe, North America, Oceania and Asia have noticed sharp reduction in homicide by similar magnitudes across simile time periods.

Between the years 1990 & 2015, Western Europe and North America saw a sharp decline of homicide victim among 100,000 people by about 46%. Asia also saw reduction of around 38%, while Oceania with 22%.

Steepest reductions however, occurred in the world’s safest regions. Homicide rates fell much more in Western Europe and Asia that already had low homicide levels.

However, Latin America and Africa were found to be two major exceptions to this trend. Latin America since 1990s has been experience homicidal rate increase by 9%.

The possible causes for the decline still are to be understood by the social scientists. Law enforcement officials, scientists and policymakers are said to have come up with few explanations for the same. It includes receding drug markets, increased incarceration, innovations in policing, legalization of abortion, increased immigration and economic improvements.

What are crime rates based on?

There are several factors that has been influencing crime rate. Often, biological factors are stated to be the starting point to understand criminal behavior. Some people are found to be predisposed psychologically to commit crime.

But this does not exactly explain as to why there is a marked difference in different states, counties and cities. The truth is that no one has any sure answer for what exactly causes crime. Several factors however, were identified by researchers as to what may influence crime rates.

  • Job availability & poverty level: Poverty and crime are found to go hand in hand. If poverty exists in a community, then this community is likely to experience higher crime rates.

    But, poverty might not in itself cause higher crime rates. Rather, it can be the factors that are associated with it. The factors may include not able to go to quality schools, chronic joblessness, role models, perceived lacking in opportunities, employment, etc. Less advantaged people may get access to those goods which otherwise they were not able to enjoy by indulging in crime.
  • Age of population: A direct correlation has been found between age and crime rate. Most crimes are found to be committed by those in their teens, between 20’s & 30s, especially in areas with transient and young population. The young man’s crime however, is violence.
  • Social Morality level: Varying morality degrees are found in different communities and homes. Some communities and families tolerate and even encourage deviant behavior, while others correct and report even minor transgressions.

    The social environment and upbringing may shape their view about the world, thereby affecting their future decisions. People having experienced emotional, sexual or physical abuse are likely the ones who are may commit violent acts.
  • Police policy: Crime rate can be successfully reduced with tough sentences and adequately resourced police force. During the 1960s & 1970s, the U.S. experienced higher crime rates, prompting lawmakers to introduce tough-on-crime policies.

How do I know if a neighborhood is safe?

A safe neighbourhood is what every family will desire for to have peace of mind and happiness in life. But if the neighbourhood is a dangerous place, then the whole family is likely to live in fear and even suffer nervous breakdown. There are few ways given below, by which it is possible to know if the neighbourhood is safe:

  • Check National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW): The U.S. Dept. of Justice is known to maintain convicted sex offenders comprehensive database. This valuable tool can help determine the safety of any neighborhood in the region. Entering an address in the site will provide information on the sex offenders in the region.
  • Crime mapping service: There are services like Spot Crime & Crime Reports which gather crime and police reports. It can be used to find information on list of committed crimes within the vicinity, with complete breakdown of crime types and dates.
  • Check out homes put up for sale in the region: This can prove to be a great indicator to gain information on neighborhood safety. If there are homes in large numbers which are put up for sale, this will mean residents are trying to escape increasing crime in the region. At the same time, vacant homes also attract unwanted criminal elements and encourage gangs, prostitution and drug production.

Are UCR crime reports accurate?

The UCR program was initiated in 1929 and is FBI administered. It gathers information pertaining to crimes that are reported to the law enforcement authorities. It can be non-negligent manslaughter, murder, robbery, forcible rape, burglary, aggravated assault, arson, motor vehicle theft and burglary.

Data is compiled by the UCR program from individual crime incident or monthly law enforcement related reports. These are transmitted to the centralized state agencies reporting to the FBI or to the FBI directly. Each report received is evaluated thoroughly by the program for accuracy, reasonableness and deviations which might indicate errors.

However, crime levels if found in large variations is likely to indicate incomplete reporting, modified record procedures or changes made within jurisdiction’s boundaries. Monthly reports are also compared with previous agency submissions.

Even crime counts for entire nation is presented by the UCR program including states, regions, countries, tribal law enforcement, towns, cities, universities and colleges. It also allows studies to be conducted amongst neighbouring jurisdictions, with common characteristics and similar populations.

UCR offers measure of crime volume reported across the country to the law enforcement agencies. Supplementary Homicide Reports offers reliable timely data on nature and extent of Homicides committed in the country.

What are currently the two major sources of data on crime in the United States?

In the U.S., the two major sources of data on crime are UCR (Uniform Crime Reports) & NCVS (National Crime Victimization Surveys). The UCR is considered to be an official data created by the FBI on crime occurring in the U.S. It is a cooperative effort designed exclusively for the law enforcement agencies to follow all over the country to report about national crime statistics.

On the other hand, the NCVS is termed to be a national survey that is administered by the Justice Bureau. It is simply a crime report that Justice Statistics Bureau conducts by conducting surveys under U.S. States Census Bureau. Both the programs tend to measure similar subset of violent serious crimes. They cover motor vehicle theft, theft, burglary, aggravated assault, robbery, rape, etc. CWP

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References:
https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr
https://www.ucrdatatool.gov/
https://www.usa.gov/report-crime

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