back to article Crime epidemic or never had it so good? Drilling into statistics is murder

Britain is in the grip of a crime epidemic, the likes of which we have never seen before. Knife crime. Stabbings. And if you're out after dark, make sure your will is written and posted before you close the front door. Or how about the alternative reality of... we've never had it so good. Violent crime was down last year, down …

  1. naive

    We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

    In most West-European countries statistics about petty crime will be largely incomplete because the cops do not do anything about it. People gave up reporting small things, since it is not worth it. It has been proven that armed citizens get harassed less than unarmed sheeples. Robbers, burglars and other low-life will think twice before doing their bad things when the probability of being confronted with a loaded fire arms is high, specially women would gain a lot with a loaded 38 special in their purse to fend off unwanted attention from males.

    Throughout Europe, the bad guys have full and easy access to fire arms an ammunition, while law abiding citizens have to jump through dozens of hoops to acquire a firearm, and they are not allowed to carry it for self defense. This is a clear violation of human rights, since people are delivered to the mercy of bad guys and prayer the cops will come in time.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      Well spoken, Batman. What we really need is more vigilante justice on the streets.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

        Well spoken, Batman. What we really need is more vigilante justice on the streets.

        I don't want armed vigilantes on the streets, however, anyone who has been through the criminal justice system as a victim will know that theres plenty of criminals and plenty of people working in the system, but there's no justice.

        There is no justice but that which we take for ourselves. Sad, but true.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

          No.. the burglars just make sure they bring a bigger gun, like they make sure they bring a weapon against a defenceless old woman now if they are intent on using harm to commit their crime (most aren't, by the way).

          And then you end up with a war of escalation.

          Guns do not stop events. They amplify the response to those events. What was a mugging turns into a shooting. What was a burglary turns into murder. What was a shop-theft turns into grievous bodily harm.

          And here's the rub: It doesn't matter who brings the gun. You. Them. Police. It just amplifies the response, not changes it.

          This is in general, of course, rather than specific events. But US crime rates are no different / are significantly worse than Britain's in this regard. Your policy has evidence from countries all over the world where gun ownership shows either no correlation or a negative correlation to crime reduction, especially when it comes to the seriousness of basic crimes.

          Guns do not stop. They amplify. They escalate. That's all they can do. And if you all have them, it's amplified much further. And then you all become accustomed to that escalation and realise that you haven't solved anything, so you need MORE and BIGGER weapons. It's not until the law steps in and says "No, now you're being silly" that it actually stops. We all know at least one local nutter who owns everything he legally can, plus a lot of things he can't, and who would park a loaded tank on his drive if he was allowed to.

          If you think that guns solve anything at all, you need to seriously look at other countries where there are none. Where the crime rates are lower, the seriousness is lower, and the culture is more gentle. The US murder rate is 5 times that of the UK, adjusted for population sizes, and gun ownership is vastly higher. That's not a coincidence, even if it's not directly and linearly causative (some controls have guns and proper gun control, and their rates are much better than the US).

          Guns do not stop. They amplify. You hope that you amplify it out of the other guy's comfort range, but then next time he tries that, he's going to try to ensure that he is comfortable no matter what he faces. It's a literal arms race.

          You're honestly blinkered by rhetoric, "what your parents thought", and unthinking loyalty to a piece of machinery if you think otherwise.

        2. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

          I don't want armed vigilantes on the streets, however, anyone who has been through the criminal justice system as a victim will know that theres plenty of criminals and plenty of people working in the system, but there's no justice.

          I suspect you're right. And to an extent you're also right that the solution to crime is preventing it, not retrospective punishment for the minority of offenders who are caught. But arming yourself doesn't prevent crime - at best it might cause the criminals to choose a different victim, as well as taking up police time investigating street shootings.

          The solution is two fold, and it isn't comfortable for the establishment. First of all, government need to legalise all recreational drugs, to reduce the need for "drug funding crimes" because these are a huge driver of burglaries, robberies, and gang related crime. Legalising drugs then also eliminates the big money in a crime business model that supports other serious and organised crime - and we could also direct interventions to people who are currently using drugs illegally anyway. No matter how dangerous drugs are, no matter how much people think drugs are wrong and should be stopped, there's a highly capable, versatile and resilient supply chain that has not been interrupted at all by decades of police efforts. You can either accept that and devise a new approach, or you can persist in a strategy that has failed for many years, and will continue to fail expensively and harmfully, whilst supporting perhaps a third of all crime in the UK.

          Second, government need to work out a better form of justice than the courts currently dish out, which works for very few. Locking people up certainly keeps them out of circulation, but that's all it does - the reoffending rates are appalling. If somebody commits a crime that requires imprisonment, then you can't just let them rot for however many months or years. That won't reform them. You need resources to work out what drives them to crime, what sort of outcome they want for their life, and how they can be put on a path to getting what they want without harming others. We do none of this, and then we're apparently surprised by 60% reoffending rates.

          If poverty or unemployment are a separate cause, then government need to create jobs for the largely unskilled people who end up as repeat criminals (as well as those who want to work but insist they can't find employment). There's plenty of low skill work that needs doing and government claim we don't have the resources for - road maintenance, flood alleviation, national broadband roll out (well, the trenching and reinstatement element), new road programmes to alleviate current hotspots etc. Instead of paying people to sit on their arse, welfare should involve work - even if that idea is a bit radical for the liberal left, and arguably it shouldn't even be welfare - abolish unemployment benefits other than for (say) two months for transitional unemployed, and offer a state employment programme. For some people this might be a long term thing, and that's fine, I'm not seeing this as "make work", but actually doing useful stuff and paying people appropriately.

          There's other stuff to suggest, but the simple point is that whilst crime has come down, it still occurs at too frequent a rate and too high a cost to society; Existing approaches have failed, arming ourselves to the teeth won't work, so we either tolerate it, or we adopt a series of radical new approaches, using simple DMAIC logic to modify these to get the outcome we want, which is lower crime, and lower costs of handling crime.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

            And to an extent you're also right that the solution to crime is preventing it, not retrospective punishment for the minority of offenders who are caught.

            Prevention is better than cure, but the cure for crime is a deterrant level term. All assaults should guarantee prison, even if its a first offence and you plead guilty. Scrap early release, then start with say a minimum 3 year term and double down for aggravating factors - race/gang component as perceived by the victim it doubles, involved a weapon it doubles again, used the weapon on the victim, double it again. Stabbings then, would consist of a minimum term of 12 years served, 24 if part of a gang attack. Criminals are dumb as a box of frogs - they not only committed a crime serious enough for the victim to report AND the police to investigate, but they got caught; however, even those dumb frog boxes will eventually realise that violent crime isn't the answer to any perceived slight to their precious little egos.

            First of all, government need to legalise all recreational drugs

            Agreed completely. The war on drugs was lost at the first battle.

            If poverty or unemployment are a separate cause

            They're not. I grew up in a poor area with high unemployment. None of my family are criminals, none of my friends are, nor their families. Its a convenient excuse to commit the crime you were going to commit anyway, and nothing more.

            Locking people up certainly keeps them out of circulation, but that's all it does - the reoffending rates are appalling.

            People reoffend because the punishment first time around was trivial to them. Violent criminals in jail cannot be out and about attacking innocent people. Prison works. Its just that letting people out of prison after 5 minutes under lock and key teaches them nothing. 20 years for kicking the shit out of someone with your group of mates ensures that for 20 years you don't reoffend, for 20 years you choose no more victims, and for the rest of your days when you get out, you won't be doing that again. Prison isn't supposed to reform, it is supposed to punish - the criminal is to reform themselves while being punished, or upon release. It's not societys job - behave or stay in jail.

            Places such as Singapore with very long jail terms for most crime have virtually zero rates of offending and all but zero rates of reoffending.

            Criminals are universally self selecting - the only problem is victims aren't.

            Existing approaches have failed, arming ourselves to the teeth won't work

            Unfortunately though, it does. Many criminals are armed anyway, and all are cowards. They're betting that their victim won't be armed and when they find out they're wrong, they rethink their ideas.

            I've been very seriously assaulted 3 times in my life. The first time the offender got a slap on the wrist and was free of the CJS before my bones had healed. He went on to have a long reoffending rate. The second time was a gang assault, and my injuries never healed; again they got a slap on the wrist and carried right on offending as though nothing had happened. The third time, well, the third time was a bit different (and no I don't carry a weapon and no I didn't go over the top)....

            I hate fighting and I'm really not very good at it. Fortunately, most criminals aren't either - they just have first mover advantage, a little more practice, and a total disregard for the health of their victim. You can train for that - it only takes a year to become physically & mentally capable, and to be trained to a level that can work if you study the right systems. I don't know about my 3rd assailant - maybe he reformed, maybe he didn't, but I do know that when I woke up in the morning, I felt that justice had been done, and that when he woke up in the morning, he understood what it was like to be one of his victims. His injuries, quite honestly, are really not my problem and I don't lose any sleep over it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      The reason we don't have guns is because if you arm the population (or all the police) then criminals will have no option but to be armed leading to many more deaths of criminals and people. I'm not getting into the American gun debate, they've had firearms from day dot so it's a different kettle of fish and difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

        Ah that old canard. Funny that when UK gun laws was not that different from the US, in the pre War era, gun crime was pretty rare in the UK. As were armed criminals. But as gun laws were tightened over the decades in the UK the gun crime rate trended up. I know correlation is not causation but it works the other way too. Widespread gun ownership by the public does not translate automatically into high gun crime rates. Just look at Switzerland.

        Now the one gun related law which does greatly reduce gun crime is making use of a gun in the commission of a crime an automatic felony, no matter how misdemeanor the crime. Those laws were introduced in the US in 1990's and the rate of armed muggings and armed aggravated assaults collapsed pretty quickly. The risk of being mugged by some guy with a gun was reduced to almost nil. Not only are the gun control people not interested in those sort of laws but the same people have spent the last decade trying to repeal those laws because too many of the wrong (i.e non white) ethic groups ended up in jail. So in the last few years the chance of getting mugged or robbed by some guy with a gun, usually recently released from jail, has gone way up. Thanks Reid, Steyer, Zuckerberg et al for bankrolling Props 47/57. You've put tens of thousands of criminals back on the streets.

        It seems that locking up petty criminals for long periods of time which Three Strikes Laws achieved back in the 1990's greatly reduces not only the petty crime rate but the serious crime rate. Because, surprise surprise, the majority of serious crime is committed by people with prior petty crime convictions. Keep the petty criminals out of circulation and the serious crime rate also falls.

        As for rehabilitation rates, under 25 years old, so so, between 25 and 50 very low, over 50, so so again. As its the same small cohort of people responsible for the majority of crime locking them up for very long periods of time during the prime years of their criminal career is the only proven way of greatly reducing crime rates

        As for the environmental causes for crime excuse. Its bullshit. More than 95% of the people who grew up in the exact same dysfunctional / deprived environments as the majority of criminals dont engage in criminal activity. Its a deep insult to all those law abiding people who grew up in those environments when poverty / dysfunctional families / etc is used as the excuse for the small percentage of people who engage in chronic criminal behavior. Most criminals are criminal because thats their personality type. Overwhelmingly sociopath or psychopath to some degree or other. So lock them up for as long as possible so they can cause less harm to others.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Just look at Switzerland."

          Switzerland is a very different type of country. Small enough (8M, IIRC), very wealthy, a strong citizenship responsibility, low unemployment, immigration under strict control (despite a Geneva office about refugees...) low crime (if you exclude banks and the like, of course) and many guns are military ones people have because they are part of their regular equipment - just they really have a "well regulated militia" because they have to attend training camps regularly (my holidays on the Walensee were often underlined by the live fire exercise at the local fire range...).

          Don't compare oranges with apples, especially the one Tell had to put on his son head.

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: "Just look at Switzerland."

            Switzerland is a very different type of country.

            You missed one more and key differentiator between Switherland, Eastern Europe (most of which is saturated with guns and ammunition), other Western European countries and USA. A lot of them have a comparable amount of guns (and more dangerous ones too like true automatics, etc). They do not have the culture of taking a gun in their own hands and "delivering justice" on all who have wronged them.

            The reason for that is simple - their culture and schools do not drill into every single person the idea that they are somehow exceptional from the earliest age. It is the American exceptionalism which is at the bottom of the USA mass shootings. The more exceptionalism is drilled into the younger generation, the more shootings you get later on. To anyone opening their mouth about citation needed - Russia. As a part of the pivot from the arising cult of personality to Vlad the Bare Chested Overlord 10 years ago they borrowed and deployed the USAisian exceptionalism doctrine. They are now literally doing the same thing USA does. So guess what - they now have school shootings too. Something they never had before when "doubting yourself and questioning how you can improve" were on the top of the agenda.

            1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

              Re: "Just look at Switzerland."

              You don't understand the expression "American exceptionalism". It has nothing in particular to do with pumped-up self esteem, though undoubtedly the notion of living in the shining city etc. does supply a nice boost to that self esteem for some.

        2. gnarlymarley
          WTF?

          Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

          And to an extent you're also right that the solution to crime is preventing it, not retrospective punishment for the minority of offenders who are caught. But arming yourself doesn't prevent crime - at best it might cause the criminals to choose a different victim

          Interesting that laws themselves never prevent a crime. The laws only attach a punishment to the crime. Folks who know about the punish can decide for themselves if they want to avoid the crime so they can also avoid the punishment.

          But as gun laws were tightened over the decades in the UK the gun crime rate trended up.

          This also proves an interesting point. When the law abiding citizens turn in their guns, the criminals then can use their gun (which criminals are going to keep and not turn in because, hey, they are criminals) more freely.

          What I would prefer is that someone also to add to their gun ban stuff that kills much more people than guns, such as scalpel and automobiles.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      Throughout Europe, the bad guys have full and easy access to fire arms an ammunition,

      You are talking out of your arse.

      I have first hand knowledge exactly how many guns are in circulation in Eastern Europe from the days when I used to live there. Out of 8 floors in the apartment block the 4 above us were all armed including AK47s, the 3 floors under us were all armed including a Dragunov sniper rifle. We were the only ones which were not armed with firearms. That is if we do not count the two APK Arsenal 9mm heavy hydraulic drive harpoons (the ones which were designed for Russian special forces). The government tried to do an amnesty many times and gave up - no weapons were handed in. So now you can just walk into a DIY shop, take the mandatory, but rather trivial course, go to your local police constabulary and get a weapons permit. Including concealed carry.

      So guess what - it DOES NOT REDUCE petty crime. In the slightest. The fact that up to 90% of the households are armed is of NO RELEVANCE to petty crime rates.

      The only thing which is proven time and again to have a direct relationship with petty crime rates are poverty and unemployment rates. They go down, petty crime goes down. They go up, petty crime goes up. That will not change even if every house has 4 gatling guns in a proximity defence configuration and a couple of Caucasian shepherd dogs running in the backyard.

      By the way, you would be surprised just how many legal weapons are with the population in some Western European countries. Finland, Germany and Switzerland come mind straight away.

      1. OldCrow
        Unhappy

        Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

        Re: _By the way, you would be surprised just how many legal weapons are with the population in some Western European countries. Finland, Germany and Switzerland come mind straight away._

        Actually, Finland should not be in this group.

        Government records of firearm ownership count every re-sale of a firearm as a new weapon, and fail to record disposal/de-armament. Plus, when the records were combined from prefectures, a lot of guns were just plain counted twice. So, the official statistics show 10x-20x the real gun owneship rate.

        The Finnish government is anal-attentive with every other database. But the politicos prefer to give a bloated picture of gun ownership, so this database is left as-is.

        On a totally unrelated note, changes are now being made to law that will end private gun ownership totally (while government is trying to pretent otherwise), so the point is moot anyway.

      2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

        Voland's Right Hand: The number one correlation is the size of the cohort of males, ages 16-24, then you get correlatations to poverty and unemployment. That research, commissioned by your Constabary came from an English lady, Dr. F. N. David. She was my mentor starting age 14 guiding me through statistics and computer science at the university. Quite a character. Smoked cigars, only drove Rolls-Royces (reliability) and never took an elevator having calculated how many times, on average, she'd be stuck in one. Miss her every day.

    4. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      It has been proven that armed citizens get harassed less than unarmed sheeples.

      Citation please. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with you at this point, only that your post contains insufficient information for me to verify the facts as presented.

    5. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      "Robbers, burglars and other low-life will think twice before doing their bad things "

      What kind of weird world do you live in? They don't bloody well think about it, or if they do, they assume they won't be caught. No-one goes around committing crime with the expectation they'll be caught, so they won't assume that their victims will be well armed.

      "It has been proven that armed citizens get harassed less than unarmed sheeples."

      Nah bro, sorry. If you own a gun, you are *more* likely to be burgled, not less. It's one of the reasons why I've never stored guns at home, owning a safe (gun or otherwise) indicates you have something worth stealing.

      "women would gain a lot with a loaded 38 special in their purse to fend off unwanted attention from males."

      I'm all for #MeToo, but I'd suggest that opening fire at street creeps might be a bit much. Might work in the office tho "our sexual harassment policy is all women are armed. First offence is rock salt, second is wood, third is lead".

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

        It turns out that to reduce violent crime, rather than filling criminals with lead, it might be a good idea to put less in.

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27067615

        Probably.

    6. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      naive,

      You entirely failed to read the article. Or if you read it, you failed to understand it.

      UK statistics do not ignore petty crime. Even though the police do. That is in fact one of the reasons that the police generated crime statistics lost their ranking as an official government statistic - due to poor quality of data collection.

      So we do the British Crime Survey instead, to pick up on crimes that either the police don't record as crimes, or the victims don't even bother to report.

      Similarly this is why we use a large survey to determine unemployment levels. Not everyone claims unemployment benefit - and that also doesn't capture part time people who want more hours. Which the employment survey does. So we report the claimant count, which is always lower, as well as an official unemployment figure.

      So we know that petty crime is falling. And thus we don't need to introduce new gun laws to deal with the horrific unreported rise in crime, because there isn't one. Once we've stopped being hysterical, and looked at the available data, we can know this.

      You're also wrong about easy access to guns. Yes, some criminals can get them. But the current small rise (or flattening off of the continuous fall in) knife crime - is down to more people carrying knives. Maybe because the penalties are lower than for gun carrying, or maybe because they're easier to get hold of. If we arm up the citizenry to shoot knife criminals, then those knife criminals will also have easy access to guns, and may well arm up too. It's harder to kill someone with a knife than a gun, so if we have to make a choice, knife crime is probably better than gun crime.

      I guess if we did want to routinely arm the populace, tasers would be the better option. Not only are they much less dangerous, they're also not so bad if the crims have them. Actually perhaps we should give criminals free tasers in some sort of knife/gun amnesty swapathon?

      What do people think. Would the election slogan Free Tasers for Criminals! win many votes?

    7. LDS Silver badge

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      Looking at how many people are in jail in the US, it doesn't look 300M guns are very useful to keep crime at bay, and that's just those who have been caught. In exchange, gun-related deaths are much higher.

      Anyway burglars, for example, are not usually total idiots and may rob you when you're not present and nobody else catches them. Nor everybody would risk his or her life to save yours belongings. A good alarm system may be better than guns.

      And you may be surprised to know that in most Europe armed burglars are usually the exception, not the norm. Less guns around make them more expensive, even in the black marked, and there's better chances to avoid a stay in prison if you're caught without a gun.

      In exchange, I have not to fear a policeman will discharge is gun in my direction when I'm (rarely) stopped for a check, usually the situation is much more relaxed.

      It's also true that with high crime levels police starts to ignore minor crimes, sometimes for lack of resources, sometimes for laziness. Unluckily, hiring policemen not always brings you the best people, especially when the pay is not that great. Moreover patrolling is expensive, and some cash-strapped states may save on it as well.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

        Another thing about the lack of general guns in society is that ammo is harder to come by. Determined criminals will probably always be able to get guns. But ammo is rarer, and the guy who sells you that automatic down the pub, probably doesn't have the full warehousing and supply chain to offer you spare parts and ammo.

        There's also some argument that the recent rising trend in knife carrying is from young people who are worried about being assaulted, and so foolishly arm themselves. Often not knowing what they're doing so both increasing the chance that the crims may use a knife on them, as well as risking having someone stab them with their own knife.

        So a better solution to this might actually be an education campaign to show that violent crime rates are falling, and have been for decades. Thus persuading them to stop carrying knives for self-protection. Sadly nobody ever seems to believe the stats - but maybe if we could beat journalists with them, every time they publish shit misleading articles about rising crime it might help?

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

          Another thing about the lack of general guns in society is that ammo is harder to come by. Determined criminals will probably always be able to get guns. But ammo is rarer, and the guy who sells you that automatic down the pub, probably doesn't have the full warehousing and supply chain to offer you spare parts and ammo.

          I think you'll find there's a lot of old and custom weaponry in use by the armed criminals of the UK, and often sourced from people you might class a gun lenders. The really thick crims probably do want to own a gun to carry all the time because they think that's cool, gangster style, these are the morons that think "I need an Uzi and a thousand rounds". But the majority of armed crims realise the last thing they want is to carry a gun "off duty", or even to have a personal weapon that could be traced back to them, or between different crimes. Far better to rent a custom firearm with its own ammunition for a specific job, then return it to the lender. That way, if it gets fired a few times, the bullets will be traced to a single firearm, but the crimes undertaken will be by multiple offendors in different locations, making proof more difficult.

          Because the weapons may be ancient out-of-production models, or converted replicas, even air rifles or home made weapons, the gun lender has to source the specific ammunition. It won't be available in volume, but that doesn't matter. So to an extent, underworld guns aren't sold like replica watches, they're hired or bought from a small number of professional suppliers, and if "sold" the dealer will repurchase them after the event. Do a search on Paul Edmunds ammunition for a relevant story on this topic - the most amusing thing is that Edmunds was caught because he issued an invoice to one of his criminal customers.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      "law abiding citizens have to jump through dozens of hoops to acquire a firearm, and they are not allowed to carry it for self defense"

      As opposed to an off-duty lawman carrying a concealed weapon at the disco doing the back flip...

    9. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      In most West-European countries statistics about petty crime...

      Is this a naive attempt to grab the position as the lead for a Western Europe NRA?

      Yes, petty crime doesn't get processed because, from the perspective of the citizen reporting it the cops don't seem to do anything (whether this is the case or not I don't know, but suspect there's not likely to be any career-enhancing rewards for catching a petty criminal, nor any sense of achievement of justice).

      Your argument would be laughable if it weren't for the terrifying fact that this is logical to some parts of the world.

    10. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      naive

      username checks out.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

        @hplasm:

        Considering naive's posting trolling record, I'm starting to think that it is an alias for a Register stockholder. He *has* to be doing good things for ElReg's ad views counts with the crap he posts.

    11. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      I'm not sure why everyone has jumped from "murder rates are (possibly) increasing" to "I need to defend myself from random criminals".

      The statistics are pretty clear on this, across all countries; you're most likely to be murdered by someone close to you. A pissed off spouse, a jealous sibling, a jilted lover, these are the people you should be wary of, not a hypothetical burgler.

      And if you keep a gun in your house, guess what you're likely to be murdered with?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

        This is why I plan to have as few friends as possible. And also why I plan to murder the rest of my family. Then I should be safe - as there'll be nobody left to bump me off! Mwhahahahahaha!

        It's also why I tell parents that I know not to worry, and to let their 5 year old's play out on the street. Like our generation did. You're statistically much more likely to be murdered by your own parents, than some random stranger. Therefore it's much safer to be out on the street than at home.

        I'm thinking of writing a book. 'Parenting Tips from Hannibal Lector', seems like a good title. The last chapter will be entirely made up of recipes...

    12. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: We need gunlaws like in the US to fight crime

      If the criminal runs out of a dark alley, pistol out, the armed citizen has no advantage over the unarmed one. I speak from experience (as the unarmed citizen).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting article and it's clear there isn't an easy solution which is concerning because if there is a rise in violent crime because of some trigger we won't see it coming.

  3. LucreLout Silver badge

    The law is wrong

    Because murder is both anomaly (it is highly exceptional: around 600 to 700 instances a year compared to around 1.3 million reported instances of violence against the person) and it is quasi-random – accidental, almost – in when and whether it gets committed.

    I'm sure it sounds highly exceptional, but considering that is around double the number of people killed on the roads where speed is a factor in the fatality (factor, not primary cause), things begin to look different. I'm not advocating abolition of speed limits, but given the hysteria around the subject and the overblown policing of the issue relative to its "highly exceptional" nature, the murder rate becomes a more significantly real problem.

    Do most murderers "intend to kill"? A good question, since most would claim they did not. What we do know is that the most common method of killing someone in the UK tends to be using a knife or sharp instrument.

    I'm going to Mandy Rice-Davis this. Nobody stabs someone with a knife while having the least little concern over whether the victim lives or dies. The act of arming yourself equates to premeditation - they aren't carrying a knife because they're going hiking, in Peckham / wherever. The intention to kill is obvious, and its time the law was tightened to remove this wriggle room around intent. If you stab someone, unless you can prove otherwise, the safest way to proceed is to assume you intended to kill them.

    But the outcome (more murders) may simply reflect a growing tendency to carry – and use – a knife than any genuine rise in murderous intent among the wider population.

    Carrying a knife with the intent of using it for violence is always an intent to murder. Claiming the violence was self defence simply doesn't cut it (no pun intended).

    1. Richard 81

      Re: The law is wrong

      Changing the law in the way you suggest may have unintended consequences, e.g. making anyone who grabs a kitchen knife off their own kitchen counter defend themselves from a burglar a murderer, without any wiggle room to argue self defence. The law is already pretty strict on that; the act of opening a drawer to retrieve a knife, rather than it being on a counter, makes it far less likely that a plea of self defence will be accepted. Same goes for stabbing someone if they're not actually facing you.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: The law is wrong

        Changing the law in the way you suggest may have unintended consequences, e.g. making anyone who grabs a kitchen knife off their own kitchen counter defend themselves from a burglar a murderer, without any wiggle room to argue self defence.

        We could easily allow being at home as a defence to the charge. If someones breaking into your home and you grab a knife, its not the same thing as walking the streets with one day in and day out in case you feel that you 'need' to stab someone with it.

        The premeditation part is the taking the knife out of the house to walk the streets with it (exceptions already apply for camping, coutnryside activities). I certainly wouldn't take my camping knife to work - its rather large (and heavy), and I don't need a 9" blade to type with.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: The law is wrong

          We could easily allow being at home as a defence to the charge. If someones breaking into your home and you grab a knife,

          Even in your home and against a burglar, the circumstances in which you arm yourself can matter. For self defence to be a valid defence, you have to be in fear and not seeking retribution. A while ago, a man broke in to a house, tied up all the family members and started torturing them to "tell them where the gold and the safe was" - there was no gold. Eventually the dad got free, and the thief ran off, however the dad then armed himself (with a bat I think), chased after the thief and beat him senseless.

          Because he wasn't in fear of his life, and at that point wasn't acting in self defence, he got a fairly stiff GBH sentence.

          Can't find the story now, pretty sure it was in Birmingham...

        2. Jane Fae

          Re: The law is wrong

          Oh yeah.

          <ring ring> <ring ring>

          Hiya, darling...would you like to come round and discuss the divorce settlement over a glass of wine at half nine tonight.

          <bell rings>

          Aha! got you, you bastard! How dare you try and break into my house. Oh, noes...you were my ex. What a shame. What a terrible accident...

          ...and no, officer. I wasn't expecting anyone. It was dark. Late. This person came to my door. I felt threatened. I lashed out. What a shame they are dead and i get to keep ALL of my pension pot...

          Bottom line: you can't have general exceptions for stabbing at home, or people will abuse it. The law, as now, says that if you use reasonable force, you'll probs be alright, which is as it should be.

          Sure. You may be arrested while police ask questions. But they have a dead body. A crime scene to protect. What do you expect them to do>

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: The law is wrong

            Sure. You may be arrested while police ask questions. But they have a dead body. A crime scene to protect. What do you expect them to do

            Give the survivor a chance to hand over the crime scene, and voluntarily answer questions under caution, but without arrest? All of the 'benefits' we have now, but without the screwing over someones career because some scrote didn;t want to work for a living but wanted to enjoy the trappings of it.

            The arrest part is simply lazy and with a few minor changes, wholly uneccessary.

    2. rg287

      Re: The law is wrong

      The act of arming yourself equates to premeditation - they aren't carrying a knife because they're going hiking, in Peckham / wherever. The intention to kill is obvious, and its time the law was tightened to remove this wriggle room around intent. If you stab someone, unless you can prove otherwise, the safest way to proceed is to assume you intended to kill them.

      Homicide != Murder

      Heck, even intending to kill someone does not automatically imply murder.

      Murder (in the UK) is "the unlawful killing of a human being in the Queen's peace, with malice aforethought".

      Note - "unlawful", and "malice aforethought". The entire concept of murder (as distinguished from homicide) is predicated on intent.

      If someone is kicking down my front door and I go to the kitchen and get a big knife (having called the Police), and they come through the door and get that knife through their chest because the rozzers haven't showed up in time, then it's homicide (one person killing another). It's even intentional. But it's not murder, and no sane CPS solicitor is going to try and press a prosecution, because the door is hanging off it's hinges and there's a pretty clear mitigating circumstance.

      You can't just remove "intent" from consideration - the offence is defined by intent!

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: The law is wrong

        You can't just remove "intent" from consideration - the offence is defined by intent!

        I didn't propose removing intent from consideration, only inverting the stack. you prove you didn't intend to kill the person you just stabbed or we should assume you did. Rather than us having to prove you intended to kill them when you bought, carried, pulled, and used a knife on them.

        In the case of an assailed homeowner, the burden of proof is met by being in your own home which is being broken into by an intruder. In the case of the wannabe ganster on the street, well, they're going to need to work a bit harder to prove they didn't intend to kill someone with their illegally carried knife.

    3. Jane Fae

      Re: The law is wrong

      yes. Murder is a real problem. I'd never say otherwise. But as a stiatistician i am looking for trends, patterns, whatever, and in THAT sense it is anomaly.

      because i agree with you that the issue is carrying a weapon. A knife or a gun. But the difference in law is that if i puncture your skin with a knife and you limp off down to the local A&E and get fixed with a couple of stitches, the penalty i face is disproportionately low, while if i nick an artery and you bleed out before the ambulance arrives, the penalty is disproportionately high.

      What i am trying to say here is that you can argue, as you do, that carrying a knife is "always" an intent to kill. But that is not how the law works. Murder follows if prosecution can prove intent to kill, which is very hard: or intent to gbh, which is rather easier.

      However, whether the consequence of death follows a stabbing is near-random. So it would make far more sense to clamp down massively on crimes of violence...maybe doubling sentences for knife and gun crimes...while giving a bit more latitude in instances prosecuteed nowadays as murder.

  4. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Holmes

    Benjamin Disraeli had it right!

    There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    1. Jane Fae

      Re: Benjamin Disraeli had it right!

      People who repeat that line as though it has any meaning deserve to die most horribly!

      Now, where's me machete?

  5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Well done El Reg

    More articles like this please.

    You're often very good at clear explanations of technical stuff - and often do so for science. But I can't recall you getting into public policy and stats much. Tim Worstall used to do it a bit sometimes.

    Also, to anyone who enjoyed this, I heatily recommend Radio 4's More or Less. Which is both excellent, and available as a podcast. It manages to do stats and keep it interesting by varying the subject a lot. So sometimes talking about pure maths problems, sometimes getting into public policy debates, and sometimes just being silly.

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Looking at the wrong thing

    > the way we measure "crime" and, more fundamentally, what we mean by crime

    Regarding violent crime. All I am interested in is whether the chances of getting smacked in the face (or worse) when I am out, is rising or falling.

    Similarly for burglary: is it more or less likely that when I return home I will be faced with £5000 of damage and massive increases in insurance rates from some scally who made off with a couple of hundred £££s of goods. That when sold on eBay will gain them £50?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Looking at the wrong thing

      Then you want the British Crime Survey. Which is the official government stat on the matter. Which shows that violent crime has been falling since the 90s, and theft has also been falling. Partly because there's a lot less point in stealing a £20 DVD player (as it's worth nothing down the pub), and a 50" telly is worth more (I guess £350 new now?) - but is much harder to carry away.

      Car crime has also fallen, partly because of more security and partly because car stereos are so cheap.

  7. Alistair Silver badge

    excellent read

    The article presents the issue well, and is done such that one can translate to other countries stats, at least ephemerally.

    I'll point out one thing that isn't mentioned here - although statistics can be manipulated, and often are, the stats themselves are not the only issue in the overall perception of the population. What I'm seeing over here in Canuckistan is that social media is coming into play, with rather a lot of 'petty' and 'minor' criminal events that would not make main stream media being 'reported' by folks on social media, and often being re-reported and mangled in the process, the result being a perception that 'crime is way worse' than it has been in the past.

    And I can honestly say that over here, at least, house breakers are exceptionally unlikely to be carrying weapons, and the only thing they seem to be interested in are Macbooks. A good pupper is more than sufficient defence.

  8. DougS Silver badge

    Politicians work to slant these figures

    Some want to hide crime to make people feel safe and complacent as the article suggests. Then you have people like Trump who want to hype crime and make it sound like it is increasing (violent crime has decreased greatly in the US since its peak around 1990) so people who feel unsafe will let an authoritarian do what all authoritarians do.

  9. Taximan

    It is the police now who have never had it so good.

    It is they who now ultimately decide whether they want to investigate a crime or not.

    Rather than be upholders of the law they have promoted themselves to be the judge and jury as well.

    Who is there to say now how many crimes have really been reported to them by the public while we use their own statistics on crime?

    1. Jane Fae

      Yes. But we don't. The ONS is very clear that police stats do not merit the status of official stats.

      Journalists, though: theey tend to worship at the altar of police stats. I suspect - cynical me! - because police stats appear quarterly, so provide a regular story and with the trends noted in the piece have lately been a good source of sensation fodder.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Taximan,

      Did you not even bother to read the article? The whole point of it is that the police stats are often pants, and that most of the recent "rise in crime" is simply that the police have been rapped over the knuckles for not listing all crimes that are reported to them. Which is why we have the British Crime Survey in the first place, to cover for the inherent problems of police-collected stats.

      The ONS are a well-respected organisation, because they spend a lot of time thinking about this sort of thing.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Measure the wrong metric and draw the wrong conclusion.

    Who'd have thought it?

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