… to only about 3 times’ the UK’s. Though that is not the angle taken in this excellent story (hattip Marginal Revolution) which marvels at it falling near to the level of some extraordinary city in Nebraska , Omaha.
Los Angeles, a city of some 4 million inhabitants, is enjoying a blindingly good few years for crime. So good, in fact, that even these figures from 2008 – an 80% reduction from 15 years before – are now badly out of date. It looks like LA might have only 230 murders this year. Less than one per day! As the article says, they may have to outsource their dramatic reality cop shows. Nirvanna, for the Los Angelenos. Which means a murder rate of only 6 per 100,000.
This trend has been widespread in the US since the mid 1990s, so that now one or two cities even seem to have a rate as low as the UK. Yes, after a couple of decades of improvement, the USA might aspire to having a murder rate in one or two of its many cities as low as the UK as a whole.
Incidentally, this question naturally leads to another one: if the UK is so much more murder-free than its Anglo Saxon cousin, why is it apparently so much more violent? From the same Wiki page and the spreadsheet, you get incredibly low US figures for violence – about a million incidents, in the cities with a combined population of 188m.
Whereas we too have a million violent crimes (source: D Cameron). Therefore we seem to have about 12000 for every murder, whereas the US has only about 90. Hence a lot of stories from Americans claiming that despite over ten thousand murders annually, they feel safer over there. In the USA, it seems, you just shoot them dead, rather than endlessly punching them as we do in Blighty.
Why is this? Well, you may think it is about guns, and of course that makes a big difference: murdering without a gun, particularly on the spur of the moment, must be much harder. Their gun culture is nuts.
But a more prosaic answer, I’m afraid, is that the measurements are different. See the answer on Yahoo Answers, link above:
Do you realise that harassment and verbal abuse is a violent crime, as are the threats of violence itself or even bigamy, which is considered a violent crime in Britain. Other violent crimes include common assault (again no injury to anyone), as well as wreckless driving, endangering railway passengers and a whole array of other rather baffling criteria.
We count just about everything as a violent crime here. And increasingly so: according to this blog Anxiety Culture:
• Certain “yobbish” behaviours (eg minor scuffles) have been reclassified as crime, with the effect of doubling recorded violent crime.
• A violent crime with many victims is no longer recorded as a single crime. An incident with 5 victims is now recorded as 5 crimes.
It is well known that a denial of this sort of goalpost shift has landed Grayling in trouble.
I am no criminologist, of course. But you often hear (from the right) about how much better it was when the friendly copper would just knock heads together, deal with things informally, when on the Beat. Given this change in police cultures, it is very hard to believe that all the incidents of domestic abuse that count as violent nowadays were measured as such in the far-more-chauvinistic 1960s, to pick just one example.
I am not condoning or intending to trivialise any of the million things that Cameron was so dismayed by. Let’s eliminate everything that is bad. But the more I read the more I have suspicions of the naked outofcontext statistical-scaring that is at the heart of Broken Britain narrative. I doubt very much that the UK is anywhere near as violent as the US, when practically every US city, even after a prolonged slump in murder, is still more murderous than us. And people still flock to live there. Let’s show some commonsense.
I hesitate to reawaken this subject, as it conjures such strong emotions. Some people believe quite passionately in the reality of a Broken Britain and its Broken society. You could be forgiven for thinking that they so badly want it to be true that they will use any evidence whatsoever. I don’t think I have ever provoked such a passionate response as when I criticised Theodore Dalrymple’s view that the UK was so irrevocably broken that the only answer was to leave it. Not, presumably, for the USA.
PS more fun from Anxiety Britain:
Surprising Crime Figures
• Around half of all violent crimes result in no injury whatsoever (according to both police figures and BCS).
• 71% of mugging (robbery and snatch theft) incidents result in no injury.
• The number of violent incidents has fallen by 36% since 1995.
• Property crime (burglary, theft, etc) has fallen 46% since 1995.
• The average household is burgled only once every 50 years.