Britain is becoming a safer place: Rate of murders and violent crime falling faster than anywhere in Western Europe
New report reveals UK's murder rate has fallen by half over the past decadeBroadland in Norfolk is most peaceful area and Lewisham is most violentPeople believe they are four times more likely to be attacked than is actually the case
, just eight weapons crimes were recorded in the area, which has a population of 125,000 people.
other areas ranked as least violent were Three Rivers in Hertfordshire,
South Cambridgeshire, East Dorset and Maldon in Essex.
Among urban areas, Cardiff was found to be the most peaceful, along with Sheffield, Nottingham and Leeds.
murder rate, though higher than elsewhere in Britain, is significantly
lower than comparable global cities such as New York, Amsterdam and
fall in violent crime across the country, the public tends to perceive
that Britain is much more violent than it is in reality.
to the research, 17 per cent of people think they will fall victim to
violent crime at some point, whereas only four per cent will actually do
The report's authors suggested a number of reasons for the falling crime rate, which did not appear to correlate closely to the country's overall prosperity as crime continued to become rarer throughout the financial crisis and recession.
Trends: Drug offences are the only type of non-violent crime to have become more common since 2003
Variation: Scotland and London are the most dangerous regions, as this map shows, with the South the least
CHANGE IN VIOLENT CRIME
1) UK (Scotland) -22%
2) UK (England & Wales) -17%
3) Italy -9%
4) UK (Northern Ireland) -6%
5) Netherlands -4%
6) Germany -3%
7) Austria -1%
8) Spain -1%
9) Portugal +1%
10) Finland +4%
11) France +5%
12) Belgium +7%
13) Sweden +14%
14) Luxembourg +32%
15) Denmark +34%
Source: Eurostat data, 2006-09
claim that one major factor was technological advances such as CCTV,
DNA profiling, information sharing between police forces and better
burglar alarms in homes and cars.
breakthroughs provide a deterrent for would-be criminals, and also help
police identify those who commit violent acts and take them off the
Another factor is the reduction in
alcohol consumption over the past decade – in 2002, the average person
drank nearly 1.5l of alcohol a week, but by 2010 this had fallen to just
Drinking outside the home has fallen
particularly sharply in that period thanks to rocketing prices in pubs
and bars, meaning there are fewer opportunities for booze-fuelled fights
and other dangerous incidents.
Demographics have often been linked
to violence levels, as societies with more young people – the 'youth
bulge' – tend to see a higher rate of violent crime.
Homicide: The rate of murder and manslaughter in all areas of the UK is far lower than in the U.S.
Leading the pack: The UK's violent crime rate has been falling faster than the rest of Western Europe
However, the report concludes that
'the changes in the youth bulge do not seem to be a significant factor
in the UK,' as crime rates have fallen even as the number of young
people has stayed reasonably stable in recent years.
Some government policies appear to
have had a positive effect on peace in the UK – the minimum wage has
reduced extreme poverty, which alleviates lawlessness.
In addition, the raising of the
school leaving age over the past few decades has ensured there are fewer
low-skilled and unemployed young people who might commit crimes.
Other more surprising reasons for
lower rates of crime across the world have also been suggested – for
example, evidence appears to show that the ban on lead petrol across the
West has reduced criminality.
Idyllic: Broadland, in Norfolk, is the most peaceful area in the UK with just eight weapons crimes last year
Contrast: The London borough of Lewisham has been named the most violent place in Britain – its murder rate is two and a half the UK national average
And a study in New York showed that
crime fell around two decades after the legalisation of abortion, as
fewer children were born to the poorest families.
Some even point to the internet as the driver of falling crime, as
people are made more aware of the outside world and educated about the
unacceptability of crimes such as domestic violence.
'Both crime and homicide have
fallen significantly,' said the report, which defines peace as 'the
absence of violence or fear of violence'.
fall over the last decade has resulted in the UK homicide rate now
being roughly equivalent to that of the Western European average, and it
is now at its lowest level since 1978.
'However, the UK violent crime rate is significantly higher than the European Union average.'
Global scale: Western Europe is extremely peaceful compared to most other regions of the world
Within Europe: The UK has fewer homicides than any other European country except Monaco
HOW THE INDEX WAS COMPILED
The UK Peace Index is based on a combination of five factors – the rate of homicide, violent crime, weapons crime and public disorder, and the number of police officers, all drawn from Home Office statistics.
Homicide and violent crime are given greater weighting in the calculation as they are considered most damaging to the general peace – each makes up 26.7 per cent of the score.
Police numbers account for 20 per cent of the final rating, with weapons crime and public disorder accounting for 13.3 per cent each.
Combining the five measures creates an artificial number between one and five for each region which allows all areas of the UK to be directly compared with each other for their overall levels of violence.
In the UK, the only major offence category to substantially increase over the last decade was drug offences, the IEP found.
All other categories of crime, including burglary and fraud, have fallen.
Britain's homicide rate is now back down to its level in 1978, roughly even with the rest of Western Europe, even though violent crime remains higher than in other countries.
Of the 343 local authorities covered in the index, 278 are now more peaceful than they were in 2003.
The authors estimated that violence cost the UK 124billion last year, equivalent to 4,700 per household or 7.7 per cent of GDP.
A nine per cent reduction in violence would be equivalent to the total cost of the London Olympics, they said.
Poverty, employment opportunities, education, access to services, and inequality are 'closely related' to peace, the report concluded.