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Monday, April 19, 2004

Police and thieves

Time to check in on the United Kingdom and see how crime is getting it on in the "land of Shakespeare" as we refer to it when we are being nice. You can check these stories that appeared in yesterday's Independent: Focus: Crime UK and its companion Focus: A war on crime? Is this a battle that we can ever hope to win? If you really want to crunch some numbers, you can check out stats at the Home Officer site: Crime in England and Wales 2002/2003. These appear to be a right royal mess and I spent a hellish half hour trying to figure out how they were comparing these things year-to-year... and then gave up.

Despite my personal mathematical deficiencies, UK crime stats are always interesting because the courts, the police and the government have essentially annulled the right to self-defense in that nation. And it has been famously stated everywhere that a person in now safer in New York than they are in London. The UK has some of the strictest gun control measures in the otherwise free world. These were introduced after the Dunblane Massacre in which sixteen school children and a teacher were shot and killed by a disgraced scoutmaster in 1996 (Guardian story here; someone named Johnny compiled a huge resource page here).

Dublane is a small Scottish town some 30 or 40 km north of Glasgow (tough to tell on this tiny map, let's see, my thumbnail is 30 km...). I wonder if the gun laws are having much influence on the murder rate in the area? From the Independent story:

Glasgow is easily the murder capital of western Europe, outstripping other cities with an astounding 81 killings in the last recorded crime figures - twice as many as London. Per head of population that is 58.7 murders per million people, compared with 45 per million in Manchester, 55.9 per million in Belfast and 26 per million in London.

They appear to be using knives, so I guess everything is okay. Overall, crime in the UK is dropping, however;
Crimes of violence have bucked the downward trend, increasing by 17 per cent last year (although some of the increase is attributable to changes in police crime reporting).

Still more sinister is the rise of sexual offences, up by 8 per cent. Half of those raped still do not report the attack. Even so, there has been a 27 per cent increase in female rape to 11,441 cases. Indecent assaults rose from 21,700 to 24,800.

Hat's off! In the "land of Agatha Christie," as we refer to it when we are not being nice, the government will protect your life and limb.

Posted by Kevin Steel on April 19, 2004 | Permalink


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