Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London's Burning: but Britain's alright

There have been depressing stories coming out from England's riots; I have even seen people suggest even that British society is collapsing. With this wave of negative news, though, it can be useful to take a wider picture. The British Home Office produces annual British Crime Surveys (BCS), asking respondents about their experiences of crime in the UK. On the 2009/10 BCS they noted a strong change in the prevalence of violent crime:

Longer-term trends from the BCS show that since 1995, the number of violent incidents has fallen by half (50%) and is now at a similar level to 1981. This fall represents two million fewer incidents and around 800,000 fewer victims in 2009/10 compared with 1995.

A graph of all violent crime recorded by the British Crime Survey shows a steep decline since 1995:

The Home Office also produces the Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence report for England and Wales 2009/10, and this too points at declining levels of violence:

The 619 offences currently recorded as homicide in 2009/10 represent the lowest number since 1997/98, when 606 were recorded.

The collapse of society shouldn't look like this. Britain, like Ireland, seems to be experiencing a shift in the right direction, with falling risk from violent crime, not rising. We will have to see how these riots change the statistics for 2011, but a sincere look at the statistics shouldn't alarm us by the way Britain has been changing in recent years.

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