Men – the real cause of crime?

Posted: November 27th, 2011  Author:   2 Comments »

I’m looking forward to talking in a couple of weeks time to some Sociology A-level students about UK crime, crime statistics and a host of related crime issues – one of which was crime related to gender. Do get in touch if you’d like me – Dan Lewis – to talk to you abuut UKCrimeStats, crime issues etc.. I can’t afford to give these talks for free but offer a much reduced and affordable rate for Schools and village societies as well as the angle and insight of an independent.

Anyway, back to the title of the post – if you’re interested in crime and gender relationships, you absolutely have to read this article in The Sydney Morning Herald, Counting the social cost of masculinity by Cynthis Cockburn, an honorary professor in the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, Warwick University and Ann Oakley, a sociology professor.

Amongst the many factual points they assemble;

“Take the August riots in Britain this year. As the suspects were charged, considerable detail was published by the Ministry of Justice. The press focused on the age, ethnicity, neighbourhood and employment status of offenders. Yet by far the most dramatic divergence the statistics revealed was gender: 92 per cent of the first 466 defendants were male.”

and

“If men committed crimes leading to jail at the rate women do, the government would save about £3.4 billion a year. Zoom out to the overall cost of crime, calculated by the Home Office at £78 billion a year in 2009, including not only criminal justice system costs but lost productivity, service costs, and impact on victims.”

Here at UKCrimeStats – we currently have no data on the criminal and certainly not on their gender. I don’t think there’s much doubt that most crime is committed by men. The trouble is, I don’t think men will ever commit crimes at the rate women do and a male-free society is not really an option. And I’m not wholly convinced that the culture of masculinity (how do you define that?) is the root cause for crime. Moreover, what about the thumping big majority of men who are not criminals but manage to be seemingly masculine?

The authors didn’t seem to have space to say which of “. . . the certain widespread masculine traits and behaviour are dangerous and costly to individuals and society“.

I do much agree though that it is violent crime that is so worrying and there does seem to be an established long-term rise. Measured as a percentage of the total of reported crime, violent crime has been;

2.4% in 1900

1% in 1937

0.9% in 1967

5.6% in 1997

About 10% so far in 2011 – CORRECTION (28/11/2011) – sorry, it worse than I thought as I was including ASB under the crime total which it isn’t.  In September 2011, violent crime made up 17.42% of the total of recorded crime. 

These first 4 figures come from a quite brilliant book, “The Strange Death of Moral Britain” by Professor Christie Davies that explores how the UK went from being a low crime, highly moral society from the end of the Victorian period to the 1950s to what we have today. I couldn’t give justice to his book here but there really are many factors at play – family breakdown, drug addiction, the death of religion, alcoholism and a major decline in moral habits of orderliness, honesty, duty and loyalty.

The good news is, as a country, we have been here before – the early Victorian period was heavily marred by crime and social breakdown and they managed to put nearly all of these negatives into reverse by the end of the 19th century.

And I for one am young and naive enough to believe it can be done again.

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Elected PCCs – a help or hindrance to crimefighting?

Posted: November 23rd, 2011  Author:   2 Comments »

This is a post I started writing back in June and parked for a bit. Now it’s very much back in the news.  And just a couple of days ago, the Conservative Party set up this page for potential candidates to apply.

When we set up UKCrimeStats we understood back then that elected Police heads would be held accountable not just at the ballot box but by their relative performance over time according to the crime data. An independent and trusted platform, UKCrimeStats would be needed to keep track of their performance as well as provide more incisive analysis and statistics, dig deeper into the data and where necessary, expose the errors – see our new page and spreadsheet and crime data forum – a lot of data still needs cleaning up.

For all that, I’m well aware that one can be a very effective Police Leader in a high crime area, where it is even rising through no fault of their own – correlation is not causation. But I’m disappointed that some Policing traditionalists believe the voting public is quite unable to discern the externalities to local crime trends and is even less capable of making a sensible choice at the polling booth once they were made part of the process.

Anyway, I’m all for lots of open debate on this – your comments as always, are most welcome.  What do you think, will PCCs be  a help or a hindrance to fighting crime?

What we need to do is move beyond this disappointingly one-sided article in the Western Mail from earlier this year. Here are a couple of points the article faithfully reports without challenge (in italics) and what some of us might have said in rejoinder in bold;

 

1. Opponents of the UK Government’s flagship plan to scrap police authorities and replace them with elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) last night used the evidence of high crime levels in Gwent to call for a re-think, saying funds for front-line policing would be diverted to pay for expensive elections.

 

Actually, this is back to front. The whole point of this reform is to create bottom-up political pressure which diverts resources away from bureaucracy to the front line. And according to a Policy Exchange report, The Cost of the Cops – there is quite a lot of bureaucracy.  As Police Minister Nick Herbert says here

“I believe that elected police and crime commissioners will have a very strong focus on reducing the burden of bureaucracy and administration in their forces precisely because they will feel pressure from their electorate to ensure that resources are directed to the front line. We are also placing police and crime commissioners under a duty to collaborate and I am sure that they will work together to drive out unnecessary costs from their forces.”

 

2. . . . there is evidence from other countries like Zimbabwe and China that politicisation of the police has dangerous consequences.

 

Quite the most preposterous argument I’ve ever heard. Electricity or money don’t work too well in Zimbabwe either, does that mean we shouldn’t have these too?

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In Britain, knife crime is much more deadly than gun crime

Posted: November 19th, 2011  Author:   1 Comment »

Having just learnt of this terrible story – Four Metropolitan Police officers stabbed in London – it took place in this neighbourhood,  I did some research and came across this very informative website, www.knifecrimes.org which I’ve now added to our blogroll. Violent crime as I’ve written here before, is a very broad category that we have to work with on UKCrimeStats with 143 types of offences that can be used to charge a suspect. We now have a new category called Public Disorder and Weapons, with just 1 month of data so far.

Now back to the theme of the post – according to KnifeCrimes, the arresting fact is that in the 9 years to 2005, victims were 4 times more likely to be murdered by knives than by guns – by 2,026 to 601.  When you add to that the number of people who are merely injured rather than murdered, one starts to understand why knife crime has been such a priority for Politicians and the Police for some years.

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UKCrimeStats now updated for September with new categories

Posted: November 6th, 2011  Author:   1 Comment »

Ok, we’ve done it. It took longer than usual because we had new 5 new crime types to build into the database. These are;

  1. Theft-shoplifting
  2. Drugs
  3. Criminal Damage and Arson
  4. Public Disorder and Weapons
  5. Theft-Other

As you’ll see from our main chart below, we have added these under the Other category (from whence they came) so you can keep track going backwards. Going forwards, when we have more than 1 month of data, we will split them out and on the reports section too.  See our national page here where we have already started doing this.

We have also updated constituency populations to mid-2010 estimates using the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics. IMHO, Constituencies are a much better guide than neighbourhoods to comparing crime in different areas because they generally have similar and larger population samples, the boundaries don’t change (well, not much – every 4-5 years !) and the population data is far more up to date and precisely sourced. I suspect a lot of the neighbourhood population data – where Police Forces have included it and still too many haven’t – may date from as early as the 2001 census. And as I’m sure you appreciate, this is quite a different country today to then. How many people do you think live in the same place they did 10 years ago?

Comments and suggestions always welcome – just email me, Dan Lewis, on crime@economicpolicycentre.com.

 

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