Speed data: Is crime really on the rise?

Rising offending in perspective
March 6, 2019

More crime, less punishment

Looking at five major crime groups, the news seems alarming. Recorded sex offences are up by around 70 per cent in just three years, some of which might, perhaps, be down to increased awareness and willingness to report in the #MeToo era. But other categories like robbery are up sharply too, and general violence against the person is up by an even starker near 80 per cent. Worse, far from being answered by firm law enforcement, the blue lines show that fewer charges are being pressed for each of the same crime types. For sex crimes, charges have virtually halved.

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Long view, small wave

While there’s no arguing that crime is on the up, a longer view suggests the picture isn’t so bleak. This chart shows crime survey estimates over the decades: the recent uptick is only just visible, dwarfed by the huge fall since the 90s. Police records suggest a sharper recent rise, but still something much less dramatic than the long fall in crime that came before.

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Island of safety

Homicide may be rising, but it is still far rarer than in much of the world. With less than one killing per 100,000 people annually, the UK sits, like much of western Europe, towards the bottom of this grisly league table. Homicides are far more common in the US, and even more so in Russia, the Caribbean and much of Latin America.