Chart of the month: crime is going up everywhere – but at very different rates

crime garoah

Tackling crime rates is not straightforward.

In the UK, we have seen repeated media reports about increasing crime rates, particularly knife crime. Our chart this month compares how the UK is doing relative to other countries in terms of crime rates and the increase in crime.

We have used a broadly accepted ‘crime index’ and the chart shows the comparisons. The UK does better than some other countries (some maybe surprising, like Sweden for example) in terms of crime index and worse than others. In the last four years, the UK crime index has shown an increase that ranked the country 8th out of the ten countries listed in terms of rate of increase. France has seen the highest rate of increase and now surpasses the USA.

Why is crime increasing everywhere?

To answer that question, I asked ChatGPT. Here is the response:

“Rising crime rates stem from a complex interplay of socioeconomic, urbanisation, systemic, and cultural factors. Economic instability and inequality drive individuals towards criminal activities for survival or financial gain. Urbanisation concentrates populations, leading to strained resources, overcrowding, and social disorganisation, fostering environments conducive to crime. Gang proliferation, particularly in urban areas, perpetuates violence, drug trafficking, and organised criminal activity.

Changes in policing and criminal justice policies can impact crime rates, with shifts in priorities and enforcement strategies potentially leading to unintended consequences, such as increased incarceration rates without addressing root causes of criminal behaviour. Additionally, technological advancements have opened new avenues for criminal activity, including cybercrime and identity theft.

“Demographic shifts and cultural attitudes toward crime also influence crime rates. Changes in population composition, age demographics, and societal norms shape patterns of criminal behaviour. To address rising crime rates effectively, comprehensive approaches are necessary, encompassing immediate crime reduction measures and long-term strategies for fostering social equity and opportunity. This requires interdisciplinary efforts to tackle socioeconomic disparities, urbanisation pressures, systemic issues within the criminal justice system, and cultural dynamics.”

In short, it’s a complex set of interacting issues. Which, as always, means that there are no easy answers. Those who believe that it can all be resolved by having more policemen on the beat will be disappointed.

Tony Blair’s famous promise to be ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ still holds true. Achieving it is far from straightforward.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.


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