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Morlaf

Crime Rates

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My mum and I have this FAT theory that crime rates have risen in the past 100 years or so. Most ppl I speak to say things like: "There are better reporting tools nowadays, hence the impression that this is the case. However it is not." I do not think this is true. Now I know "crime rates" itself is a broad concept that needs huge amounts of refining before the conversation can even begin but lets be vague for now. If you think crime rates have NOT increased in last 100 - 200 years can you please tell me how you get to that conclusion and what you base it on please?

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We are seeing differences in the TYPES of crimes being committed over the last 100 years. For instance, in 1920 one would not expect a suicide bomber to walk into a small grocery store and attempt to massacre 30+ people by detonating explosive devices attached to their torso. However, just as theft was a serious problem in London in 1920, it still is today. For argument's sake, let us assume that there were more stabbings in London in 1920 vs. 2017. In fact, let us assume that the stabbings now are outnumbered 5 to 1 when compared to the number of stabbings in 1920. Even if this is true, we have a huge question that must be taken into consideration if we wish to determine whether crime rates are better or worse in 2017 vs. 1920: Is it the case that 20 stabbings per day in 1920 vs. 4 stabbings per day in 2017 indicates that crime rates are higher in 1920 vs. 2017 when we take into consideration the differences in the ways in which crimes are being committed? Perhaps there really are more stabbings each day, but even if there is one suicide bombing per month (this is just an arbitrary example to make a point), approximately 20-70 people could be killed in this bombing. Therefore, the death toll brought about by crime at the end of the month could be very similar if not even greater in 2017, but there are technically less crimes being committed because the suicide bombing is only one event. 

 

These are questions we have to take into consideration if we wish to answer your question together @Morlaf

 

Disclaimer: I realize my numbers do not add up particularly well in the example used above (lol), but you get the point :) 

 

Edited by ClinicalMan

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don't worry about the maths not adding up. I understand where you are coming from. "Modern" forms of crime like what you mentioned and cyber-crime, car crime etc will always skew the figures. It is difficult territory. Also population density will affect the figures. so if the population of a city doubles you can assume crime will (more-than-)double. I wonder if there is a way to filter out those factors and just focus on good 'ld fashioned age-defying crimes like: Stealing, stabbings, rape, burglary, murder etc....

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I am not a criminologist, but I am a data guy.
I would go with something like #crimes/1000 population, this way you can adjust for population density.
I would also be careful (or at least note) that the definitions of some crimes have changed over the years. Categorization of things like sexual assault/rape have different meanings now compared to 10/20/100 years ago.

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I believe that @avflinsch makes good points. Another thing to consider is whether or not the frequency of reporting crimes has changed at all over the past 100-200 years.  If you are looking for objective truth, you should not only be interested in the number of crimes reported, because that (potentially) says very little about whether or not crime rates have changed. I hypothesize that the frequency with which individuals report crimes has in fact changed over the past century. Presumably, the introduction of worldwide communication (e.g., the internet) and pocket-sized phones has undoubtedly created more opportunities for crimes to be reported and therefore included in a countries crime rate data. Thus, perhaps London's crime rate statistics from 1920 would be much different (i.e., much higher) if the cities inhabitants owned cellphones and computers.  

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wow! i think that just as I am in no way qualified to say whether or not crime rates have increased, there are very few who ARE truly qualified to comment one way or another... with hard data and publications etc.... thanks guys. will keep thinking/reading.....

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Personally, I have no insight. But I'll refer you to this here book by Stephen Pinker which may shed some light... although it may contradict your FAT theory.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

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A history professor of mine, Roger Lane, did some work that looked at accidental or violent deaths.  So, workplace accidents, murder, manslaughter, car accidents, etc.  

His general conclusion that this kind of random death declined as America became more industrialized (i.e., more predictable).  There was a blip when the automobile arrived, but otherwise it was gradual decline through WWII.  De-industrialization at the end of the 20th century brought a lot of randomness back into daily life.

The exception to this narrative was in the black community, which was largely frozen out of the unionized factory jobs that made life more predictable for everyone else.  Accidental death rates stayed pretty high in that population for the whole period.

Edited by Concordia

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