European Crime

The EUICS released their comparative report of the European Crime and Safety Survey (2005) the other day, summarizing the crime levels of 18 countries (based on self-reported victimisation in a survey, why this might be preferrable can be seen in this chart). Some changes since the last survey done, so I thought I’d summarize that.

First off, the general victimisation rate is trending downwards from the mid-90s:

The mean victimisation rates of participating EU countries went from 16.9 in 1988 to 21.6 in 1992 and to 21.6 in 1996. It fell slightly to 19.3 in 2000, and steeply decreased to 14.9 in 2004.
Although this report focuses on crime within the EU, it seems worth mentioning here that levels of common crime have recently shown declining trends in the USA, Canada, Australia and other industrialised countries as well (Van Kesteren, Mayhew, Nieuwbeerta, 2000).

Here’s a map where high prevalence of victimisation is represented by darker colours:

It’s interesting to note that there is not a statistically significant correlation between youth populations or economy and victimisation, but there is a slight trend toward urbanisation being significant, though with lots of deviation, so I’d really like to see them include a historical comparison in this graph:

As you can see, these numbers are for “10 crimes”, so I’ll show some of the figures for the individual crimes, namely burglary, “theft of personal property”, assault and sexual assault.

Burglary is pretty straight-forward, probably the crime most commonly reported to the police. Of course, you have to have a home to be victimised by it, but since those lacking a home don’t have a phone, it’s not really a problem for what this survey measures.

Most countries show a decrease, except for the UK, in the report there is quite a lot of speculation on the role of burglar alarms and special locks (those having increased) in the decrease.

Theft of personal property is regular theft, not including pickpockets or burglary cases.

The figure for assaults and threats is based on the question ‘Apart from the incidents just covered, have you over the past five years been personally attacked or threatened by someone in a way that really frightened you, either at home or elsewhere, such as in a pub, in the street, at school, on public transport, on the beach, or at your workplace?’

However, this figure changes a bit when people are asked about incidents that actually resulted in an assault with use of force, showing that there might be a large part of interpretation and social context in the “assaults and threats” figure. This also highlights a problem of gender, which I think should be presented separately. A drunk young man being threatened is far less likely to show up in the above numbers compared to the “typical population”, but is probably far more likely to show up in this chart:

Of course, one could argue that if someone is not frightened by a threat, then it shouldn’t be counted in the first place, so there is no problem (of course, then the problem arises even worse when a group where such behaviour is not frightening interacts with a group where it is).
Latching onto the “drunk young man” perspective, here are the assault/threat rate compared to beer consumption:

There are of course a lot of violence not covered in the “night life” situation, most significant is probably the violence against women, which is often quite different in nature from violence against men, being in other locations, with other kinds of perpetrators.

Since this is a phone interview, the sexual assault stats are dubious, at best, but still an indicator most people find interesting. This is of course another stat where I’d really like to see them present the full statistics, as they report that “On average 0.5% of male respondents recorded a sexual incident. Somewhat higher percentages were recorded only in Denmark (1.9%) and the Netherlands (1.4%).” As the chart says, 1.7% was the average for women. The question as given is also something I think a lot of people might object to:

“First, a rather personal question. People sometimes grab, touch or assault others for sexual reasons in a really offensive way. This can happen either at home, or elsewhere, for instance in a pub, the street, at school, on public transport, in cinemas, on the beach, or at one’s workplace. Over the past five years, has anyone done this to you? Please take your time to think about this.”

That’s it for the actual crimes, now to a couple of other things they’ve measured, that strongly correlate, namely people’s contact with drug-related problems and their fear of going out after dark:

Unfortunately, the data is quite lacking on these two points, so I’ll just rant about Sweden. Though these two charts correlate quite well (r=+.79) in a comparative analysis, we can see that even though the experience of the drug problems have decreased, the fear has increased (in the case of Sweden), so obviously it’s not necessarily causal. As we can see the fear is higher than the perceived drug problem as well, so obviously there are outside factors to take into account (and the actual crime rate is probably too low to account for much). It is my opinion that fear of crime often is a greater problem than actual crime.

Some stuff that’s in the report that I didn’t mention:
Consumer fraud, corruption, relationship to police, attitudes toward punishment, and a whole lot of raw data.

If you have the murder rate data, I’d like to see it.

Cross-country crime comparisons of things like simple assault should be taken with a grain of salt, because of possible differences in how many report the crime, or what one deems to be a true assault. But murder is a very clear cut crime, and it’s reasonable to assume it is reported at similar levels across countries (i.e. the vast majority of murders are properly reported in all first-world nations).

So, the Irish really are good-for-nothing drunks? Too bad the English aren’t any better.

Interesting that petty crime is low in Sweden but sexual assault is quite (relatively) high.

Anders, I take offense of your characterisation of Europeans as criminals.

Well, I’m sure if you normalised for hard liquor, Sweden would be up there.

Sexual assault is, of course, difficult… You could ask some right-wing blogs about it, of course ;)

I’m going to try to find some better stats, but here’s from WHO’s World Report on Violence and Health, which is a good resource, but it’s rather dated, and as I recall, Estonia is at least down to 9-10 these days. (year in parenthesis)
Austria 0.8 (98)
Belgium 1.6 (95)
Denmark 1.1 (96)
Estonia 14.8 (99)
Finland 2.2 (98)
France 0.7 (98)
Germany 0.9 (99)
Greece 1.2 (98)
Ireland 0.8 (97)
Italy 1.1 (97)
The Netherlands 1.3 (99)
Poland 2.7 (95)
Portugal 1.1 (99)
Spain 0.8 (98)
Sweden 1.2 (96)
United Kingdom 0.8 (99)
United States 6.9 (98)

The English are more violent despite consuming less alcohol. Ireland is better off.

So, for those who have read the applicable literature, what is the best theory as to why the U.S.'s murder rate is so much higher than the others?

Yes, we have a lot of guns, but so do some (not all) other first world nations, many with lower murder rates.

Yes, we have drugs and gangs, but are we unique in how prevalent these are? (legit question - I have no idea what the answer is…)

America is a morally corrupt society where human life has little meaning.

Oh, wait, you mean I’m supposed to read stuff before making up an opinion? Nevermind

Check this out:

Basically, (imo), it’s heterogeneity, poverty, access to guns, and urbanization. The worst places are urban areas that have very diverse, compartmentalized populations.

Even the least violent states though still have greater murder rates than nations like France, however.

Daniel Pipes, who claims to be without bias or an axe to grind, recently declared that 68% of rapes in Denmark were committed by Muslims. He and his Danish far right cohort calculated this on the basis that of Copenhagen’s 17 convinctions for rape in 2005, 13 were from the third world, and as he guessed most of them must have been Muslim, 68% seemed a fair figure (complete fabrication based on a tiny sample and ignoring typical urbanisation habits of immigrants). So he can fairly (lie), and without bias nor axe to grind, extrapolate that figure for the entire country.

What I found interesting with these figures was the lack of correlation between (third world) immigration and crime. France, the country with the largest third world immigrant and Muslim population, was right down at the bottom. The country with the worst crime rate has hardly an third world immigrant population of note. Other countries with sizeable third world immigrant figures ranged from the top of the table (UK, Denmark, Netherlands) to the bottom (Austria, Italy, Spain). Countries without sizeable third world immigrant populations were at the top (Estonia and Ireland) and the bottom (Hungary).

Several books I’ve read try to correlate lack of third world minority acclimation to the dominant culture as a driving factor behind crime among those citizens. When people feel like they are shunned by the dominant culture they begin to rationalize reasons why they do not need to follow that nation’s laws.

However, the statistics from France seem to upset this idea, as I’ve also read that the French treat their minority population with a level of contempt that is much higher than many other European nations.

Almost all the difference comes from the South and northern urban populations with Southern cultural roots. There’ve been a lot of studies on this (but the only convenient link I could find was this one.) By some theories, during the slavery era honor culture took root in the American south and that has contributed to American violence every since.

Yeah, France scores highly in that report in terms of hate crimes against immigrants. It has the most hate crimes overall (immigrant and non-immigrant) which suggests serious inter-racial tension, and also ranks fourth for anti-immigrant hate crime (Belgium ranks first).

I don’t think there’s a connection between their unpleasantness to immigrants and the low crime. Spain has the lowest hate crime score against immigrants, and from previous surveys I’ve seen has the least problems with different races and religions, and Spain also has the lowest crime rate overall and a relatively significant immigrant population.

[QUOTE=antlers] the South and northern urban populations with Southern cultural roots. QUOTE]

Is that a fancy way of making saying something racist like “where black people live”?

Or do you really think that people today are still living some southern honor code with duels to the death and such.

Also can you really back up either of those statements or is that just something you read somewhere but didn’t bother to think about.

I call bullshit on France and Italy’s numbers. I have many friends who live in Italy, and extortion, assault, and especially hardcore drug-use is rampant. None of them feel too safe, unless they’re in Northern states of Italy.
You have to remember, there’s lots of way to skew numbers… and each country vies for the best EU citizens. Also, exclude Dublin and you’d see Ireland is a very safe place.

I think a lot of Italians actually live in the Northern part, so I think it’s your friends that is the skewed sample, not the survey. That’s not to say that there aren’t problems with the survey, but it’s mostly of a “which people don’t they ask” and “which questions do people not answer honestly”-nature.
The survey was done by Gallup Europe and used a random sampling (adjusted for regional and demographic factors), so I don’t think the vile French and Italians manipulated the figures more than anyone else. And the data does show Italians to be more a-feared than most.
Dublin is as safe as Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Stockholm and Paris, and safer than Copenhagen and London for total victimisation, though Dublin of course has a greater proportion of citizens than those cities.