Fjordman has pointed out that reported rape rates in Oslo are 6 times the level they are in New York. Comparing crime rates across borders is notoriously difficult, primarily because of the different definitions of different categories of crimes (e.g. is a suicide a murder or not ?), but also because of different approaches to policing: rape reporting to the police varies from country to country and it seems the way the police treat victims has a large impact on the likelihood of reporting. I was curious about the true situation, but unsure what to believe of the official MSM gospel about crime, i.e. that Europe is a haven of peace compared to the USA, so I spent some time trying to understand what was really going on. This is what I have found.
There are two main approaches to collect crime statistics : (i) based on crimes reported to the police and (ii) by polling a representative sample of the population. Sadly, for many crimes, in particular non-violent crimes, police statistics are probably underestimating the true crime rate. One could think of French police authorities, who have targets to reduce crime in their area and who make any declaration of any crime so cumbersome that most victims don't bother, and in Italy, only in 15% of cases of experienced car vandalism do owners bother to report to the police, whilst in the US this percentage is 51% (ICVS). Furthermore, the success rate of the police in catching minor criminals is often so low, that victims don't see the point in declaring a crime. Hence, countries with high reporting rates, such as the US, tend to do worse in reported crime statistics. For most crimes, in particular non-violent ones, a much telling source of data is that of the International Crime Victim Survey.
The International Crime Victim Survey (pdf), sponsored by Leiden University, is a survey based on interviews with a random sample of the population. There have been three such surveys in the last 20 years, the latest one in 1995. Respondents are asked which crimes, from a standardised list ranging from bicycle theft to assault and theft, they have personally experienced during the previous year. The most obvious crime missing from the ICVS list is murder, since victims are unable to take later interviews.
Violent crime, and in particular murders, is reported to police more often. For instance, it can be assumed that apart from underworld murders and missing persons, almost all murders in the developed world are reported to the police. Still, even for reported violent crime, a better source than statistics from individual countries, which are distorted by differing national crime definitions, are international comparative statistics by Interpol, which are said to be based on more standardised definitions of crime categories. However, intriguingly, Interpol's international crime statistics have recently been removed from its website. Clearly, such information needs to be hidden from ordinary citizen (who are paying Interpol with their taxes) to prevent them from reaching any wrong judgments about their governments ability to perform the most important task : protect citizens from violence. Luckily I have a copy of some of the 2002 Interpol data, but I am unable to link to what has apparently become a state secret.
When one analyses these data, from ICVS for experienced crimes except murder, and from Interpol for reported violent crime, a few trends appear in the last 20 years.
- In the latest published ICVS, the percentage of the population which claims a personal experience of crime (excluding murder) during the preceding twelve months is higher in all countries than official statistics would lead one to assume : ranging from 16.4% in Norway to 31.5% in the Netherlands. The US (24.2%) and Canada (25.2%) are both average.
- According to ICVS, overall crime rates are the highest in the British Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, England) followed by northern European protestant countries (Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, but with Norway a clear exception), whilst the “safer” countries tend to be more Catholic/Latin/Southern European, such as Austria, Italy, Belgium and, yes, Northern Ireland (as mentioned above, murders are not covered by ICVS…). Note that the bulk of these crime rates are relatively minor crime.
- The US is average in terms of overall experienced crime rates (ICVS), but for the most violent crime, murder, has the highest rates in absolute terms (Interpol), 5.6 per 100,000 inhabitants per year, vs. 4.1 in France for example, although the gap is rapidly shrinking and smaller than most people think.
- Overall experienced crime rates are rising in most countries, for instance with violent crimes like Assault tripling in England and doubling in France during the nineties (ICVS). The US is one of the few exceptions to this trend, In fact, Interpol statistics show sharply reduced murder rates in the US (albeit from a high level). Among the five most violent crime categories in the Interpol statistics : (i) murder, (ii) serious assault, (iii) aggravated theft, (iv) robbery and (v) car theft, France had already overtaken the US by 2002 for the last three crimes, and looked like overtaking the US by 2004 for murder and assault as well. According to Interpol, England had fewer murders, assaults and robbery than France, but was also rapidly converging with the US. (Teaser, which Interpol member states had most to hide under continued publication of Interpol comparative statistics, the US or EU countries like France ?)
- A lot has been written about the large decline in US crime rates in the last 2 decades and as usual different and sometimes conflicting explanations have been given, including : (i) the declining birth rate (in part, because of high abortion rates), leading to fewer young males around, (ii) better policing methods and the so-called zero-tolerance approach (and there seems to be some indication of a correlation between different policing methods in US cities and the change in local crime rates), and (iii) the very high incarceration rates in the US (i.e. the more people you lock up, the less crime is committed outside the prison walls). If one assumes each of these three factors has had an impact on falling US crime rates, then the conclusion seems to be that for Europe, where birth rates have fallen even more than the US, but violent crime has risen fast over the last two decades, there must be something seriously amiss with policing and incarceration policies.
- Reporting rates, i.e. the percentage of experienced crime actually reported to police varies significantly across borders : for instance, for Assault, more than 40% of cases are reported in the Anglo-Saxon countries - where the incidence is relatively high - and in Belgium, and less than 25% in Germany, Austria and Italy). But reporting rates varies even more depending on the type of crime : almost in all countries, more than 90% of all car thefts are reported, but reporting rates for Assault and Robbery, far more violent and unpleasant experiences are typically only half those of car thefts. For Sexual Offenses the reporting rates suggest that police reports only represent the tip of an iceberg. The fact that many car owners have theft insurance makes them obviously more likely to report a theft, because with cover there is near certainty of compensation for the victim. But the low reporting rates for other crimes may illustrate why so many ordinary people treat the conclusions of official crime statistics with a pinch of salt, despite being told by the elites that all is well and this feeling of insecurity is an imagination.
So it seems crime in the US has decreased, whereas it is rising fast in Europe and Europe is rapidly catching up with America (or may already have, although that too might be a state secret). Rather than lecturing Americans, should Europeans not see if one or two things can be learnt from the American experience ?
New York was an unsafe city twenty years ago, but was one of the first to try the zero tolerance approach, with good results. New York threw over board its tradition of turning a blind eye to so much crime because there were no liberals left anymore: they had all been mugged (if not worse…).
Clearly, Norwegians (and other Europeans) have not yet arrived at the conclusions Americans have reached a decade ago. That time will come, despite all efforts of the elites to convince the masses that all is well in multicultural Europe.
And why have the Interpol statistics been made a secret to ordinary citizens?