This is a link to a thoughtful criticism of Canadian crime statistics – worth a read for ideas on what might be wrong with ours and statistics generally.
Crime has been coming down across most of the EU, Britain, the USA and Canada for a decade. Citizens generally don’t believe this to be the case. Yet some of the crime that is down would be hard to dispute – homicide volume is the classic. It’s hard to think cops around the world have become adept at hiding the bodies.
My own street has been almost completely peaceful since the removal of a dire couple of druggies who have caused trouble in spades wherever they have lived and continue to do so where they are now. Prison makes no difference, except in the time they are off the street. In the US people like them spend more time in jail. Removing them from our society and their children might reduce our crime a great deal and prevent the ‘generational effect’. Decent statistics (partly as argued in the Canadian article) would give us a clear idea. The guess is that about 100,000 of these bastard homes exist. If the significance of each is as strong as the one once next to us and getting rid of them as significant, then incarceration would make a massive difference, unless others would just emerge in the wake. This could be tested too.
One reason given for the drop in US crime has been legalised abortion – the likely criminals getting an early death sentence. Crude as this seems we should pursue a structuralist analysis of our offenders.
Across the world, the purpose of police statistics seems to be to tell the public crime is falling. It’s pretty obvious from education to banking that false-accounting is rife, as is image management.
Police are presumably better organised and using better technology than ever before – this may be building a genuine deterrent effect or set of them. My feeling is crime is actually shifting, just as my former neighbours moved and into new categories. Insurance rates against crime are not falling. The statisticians don’t deal us a full deck.