OK, this is not original with me. Some of you have a problem with republishing material: even if it is attributed. This is reposted in the hope of getting accurate information out in the debate.
Nevermind, that the pro-gun side tends to repost stuff in a way that makes weeds look like a Capability Brown garden or flies on shit look like rare birds. They hate it when others post things that contradict what they say.
That said, this comes from the site: Dispelling The Myth – Why the UK is NOT more violent than the US and it points out why comparing the US to other countries is not accurate:
Dispelling The Myth – Why the UK is NOT more violent than the US
First and foremost, I want to say this
isn’t a statement about American’s right to bear arms, or about what I
think about that. This is not the argument at stake here, and I’m not
even going to go there.
Do I disagree with the rights of
civilians (not just American ones) to arm themselves? Yes, yes I do. But
that is my opinion, everybody has one, they all stink, and opinions are
not based on palpable, objective facts, but on subjective thoughts,
emotions and prejudices and bias. Which is why I’m not even going to
But there is something I will debate, and
fight, and argue against. The notion that the US is somehow, a safer
country than the UK. On the 14th of December 2012, armed gunman Adam
Lanza shot and killed 26 children in a sad and deplorable shooting at
Sandy Hook Elementary School in the United States. A notable consequence
of this disaster was an episode of CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight show
where the British journalist and television host made statements to the
effect Britain is a safer country than the US because Britain has strict
gun control laws vis-a-vis the United States. From these statements, a
barrage of claims have been advanced by pro-gun advocates in particular
(but not exclusively) quoting reports, surveys and statistics indicating
that the United Kingdom has anywhere from 4 to five to 10 times more “violent crime”
than the US does. One particular example is a segment of Fox’s WXIX
affiliate in Cincinnati entitled “Reality Check” where presenter Ben
Swann makes a series of statements and cites a number of “statistics” of
the type mentioned above, indicating these prove the UK is not only
five times more “violent” than the US, but also Europe’s second most
violent country overall.
What shocks me the most about these
statistics isn’t that they might be true, its how easily certain people
cling to them, and the total, abject lack of any independent critical
thinking or any interest in fact, of getting to the truth. Well, someone
has to do it, and I have. It may have taken a few days, and more work,
time and effort than I’ve probably dedicated to far more deserving
University papers and academic work, but here it is. The reasons why, in short, bloggers, journalists, media outlets, armchair political scientists and opinionated fools are basically lying to you when they say the UK has a higher rate of “violent crime” than the US.
Has anybody stopped to even figure out
why that may be? How that can be possible? How the UK defines violent
crime? That what may constitute “rape” in the UK does not in the US and
vice versa? Well, I have. And here are my findings.
In the UK, crime statistics are collected
by police reported crime (PRC) and the British Crime Survey (BCS). In
the US, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the National Crime
Victimization Survey (NCVS) are the departments responsible for this
task. Given that both my sources are those organisations themselves, and
both are dated to 2011, I find my sources to be authoritative and up to
ADDITIONAL SOURCES: ===========================================
For a good balanced view of the pros and cons of the British Survey Crime vis-a-vis the police reported crime, see here.
(The Office For National Statistics – UK)
Furthermore, when it is said “The European Union ranks the UK as x in levels of crime”
or “crime capital of Europe
it is worth bearing in mind that Eurostat also only collects what each
country publishes as “violent crime” and at no moment attempts to make
it’s own, independent criteria. That is, they suffer from the same bias
as that which will be explained below under “definition of violent crime”
. (Eurostat, Statistics Explained – See Methodology
For the figures themselves, I’ve relied solely on” recorded crime”
, as indicated in the THOSB – CEW
for the UK and FBI – CUS
for the US.It was my original intention to rely on the BCS and the NCVS
figures for the UK and US respectively, because crime – by its very
nature – is often covert and secretive, and much of it suffers from
under-reporting. The surveys would offer a much more accurate picture of
real crime rates in both countries, but unfortunately, to compare
figures from both surveys with one another became impossible, as I
There are many types of crime which are
reported equally in the PRC and FBI – CUS for both the UK and US, but
not in the BCS and NCVS. For example, while the former reports the
incidence of knife crime and gun crime occurring within a set of crimes,
such as rape, robbery, burglary and assault, the later does not. Thus,
it would be impossible to compare objectively between the two. Yet, such
figures are available in the PRC and FBI – CUS estimates, where they
can be compared.
For example, the BCS aims to interview
46,000 people aged 16 and over, while the NCVS relies on a core sample
of 143,120 over the age of 12. This is even before we enter the quagmire
how each country defines its various crimes. This is discussed in more
detail below, and it must be said from the outset that what defines “violent crime” in either country is one of the main factors responsible for the wildly different numbers of report crime between the two.
For the specifics on how I calculated the
violent crime rates, the formulas used and the veracity of the numbers
involved, please see the “Mathematics” section.
DEFINING VIOLENT CRIME ==============================
contains a wide range of offences, from minor assaults such as pushing
and shoving that result in no physical harm through to serious incidents
of wounding and murder. Around a half of violent incidents identified
by both BCS and police statistics involve no injury to the victim.” (THOSB – CEW, page 17, paragraph 1.)
“In the FBI’s
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four
offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery,
and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program
as those offenses which involve force or threat of force.” (FBI – CUS – Violent Crime)
We can clearly see here there is quite a
large difference in how both countries report and assess what qualifies
as “violent crime”. The UK’s approach seems to be a lot more
encompassing in scope and adds to its definition of “violent crime”
offences which are not matched by its US counterpart. This raises the
obvious question of whether UK violent crime rates can be said to be
higher simply because things considered “violent crime” in the UK are
not so in the US. One example is “assault”, all forms of which are
considered “violent” in the UK, whereas in the US only “aggravated” is
considered violent. A further example revolves around sexual offences,
only “forcible” rape featuring in the US definition, while the UK
definition includes rape and any and all forms of sexual assault.
Therefore, it becomes practically
impossible to draw any objective comparison between the two, unless one
trawls through the various definitions of crimes that can be said to be
the same in definition and execution in the UK and the US. I’ve actually
done this, and by going through the PRC and FBI – CUS it is possible, I
believe, to find a number of crimes which I think are fairly indicative
of the prevalence of “violence” in either country. To this end, I have isolated robbery, burglary, homicide / murder, knife crime, fatal shootings, rape of a female, grievous bodily harm / aggravated assault and theft of a vehicle in order to give us a fair idea of which country is more “violent.” The relevant definitions and rates for each crime will be presented below in their own sections.
However, before we proceed onto that
stage, I thought it would be useful to present the actual figures of
“violent crime rates” for both countries that has spurned this research
in the first place, and the mathematics involved in calculating the
figures and statistics for each relevant isolated crime.
REPORTING HOMICIDE BEFORE AND AFTER COURT: ===================
A common point raised in the debate is the assumption the UK reports homicides only after court findings
, and thus does not include unsolved murders, while the US reports homicides before court findings.
assumption is incorrect. Statistical data recorded in the UK in the
form of PRC (police recorded crime) includes homicides as reported by
the police and also takes into account unsolved homicides. (HFOIV, page 16, paragraph 5 and 6.)
VIOLENT CRIME RATES: ================================
Lets start with the actual rates of violent crimes for each country themselves, for 2011, as reported to the police, in those countries. For the time being, they are not taken by a per capita, sample or household ratio.
Again, we are bearing in mind these rates
are not taking into account what defines violent crime or each
individual offence classed as violent for each country, but is simply
taking what “violent crime” is reported in each country and putting them
side by side.
To give the reader an idea of how much
crime can be said to be under-reported, I have taken the liberty of
including the BCS and NCVS statistics on “violent crime” – again with
the same shortfalls as above – for the sake of completeness.
Violent crime rates in 2011 as reported to by surveys in those countries, the BCS and NCVS respectively.
Interestingly, this suggests that the actual violent crime rate for the US is 4.81x higher than reported (NCVS 5.800.000 / 1,203,564 FBI – CUS = 4.81) and 2.6x higher than reported than in the UK. (CBS 2,203,000 / 821,957 THOSB – CEW = 2.6)
Unfortunately, as I’ve said, it is
impossible to use these figures against one another. However, it is
indicative of a few things. Firstly, that crime has a higher rate of being reported in the UK than in the US, as the UK’s survey rate is more closely matched by police reported crime. Secondly, it illustrates by how much crime appears to be under-recorded in the US, by an order of 4.81 exactly.
Now, as I said before, this is simply
stating the number of violent crimes that occurred in each country. It
is not adjusted for population size, samples or households. As such, it
is not very indicative. While in both reported crimes to the police and
through surveys, the United Kingdom had a lesser number of violent
crimes, this is not to say the UK is a safer country than the US or
vice-versa, because the US has a population more than five times larger
than the UK’s. Thus, any meaningful crime rate will have to take into
account the number of crimes vis-a-vis a population sample. Therefore,
below we examine the mathematics required to achieve any meaningful
numbers, and the simple equation used to eventually achieve our robbery, burglary, homicide / murder, knife crime, fatal shootings, rape of a female, grievous bodily harm / aggravated assault and theft of a vehicle rates.
THE MATHEMATICS: ===================================
First we will have to calculate a few
population samples, by which to compare crime figures against. Let’s
keep it simple and say 100,000 people. This way, we will get a
representative, measurable rate of the number of crimes that occur for
that number of people. We will then be able to objectively compare both
So let us start with population sizes, as of 2011, according to the WB.
Now that we have both the countries’
respective violent crime figures and populations, we may begin to
calculate a basic violent crime to 100,000 people crime ratio. This will
give us our violent crime rate. Our first step is to divide the
populations by 100,000, our selected sample or packet.
UK: 56,100,000 / 100,000 = 561
US: 311,591,917 / 100,000 = 3116 ~ (Rounded from 3115.91917.)
Now all we have to do is divide the
violent crime figures we’ve selected (the PRC and FBI – CUS ones) by the
numbers we’ve found above, each of which represents a sample or packet
of 100,000 people. That way we will find out how many crimes happen per
100,000 people, or the rate of violent crime, to put it simply.
UK: 821,957 / 561 = 1465
US: 1,203,564 / 3116 = 386
Straight off the bat, the UK can be said to have a higher crime rate, in fact, 3.7 times more violent crime than the US does. But remember, this is simply the “violent crime” rate as is reported in each country, regardless of how it is defined – and as we saw above, the definitions vary quite wildly as to not only what defines “violence” but also what constitutes each individual crime.
It is here that most media outlets and
political enthusiasts pick up their figures from, at face value, without
any effort at critical thinking or even ascertaining the truth behind
these figures, and leave it at that – namely where their “research”
ends. But to me, there is more than that. Any responsible and meaningful
endeavour into the fuzzy world of numbers and statistics cannot stop
there. I’ve already identified two factors which would skewer the rates in favour of the US, namely a 4.81 factor of under-reporting crime as opposed to the UK’s 2.6 ratio, but also the fact violent crime is defined differently in each country.
Therefore, we must find crimes which bear an equal or highly similar definition in both countries. Crimes such as robbery, burglary, homicide / murder, knife crime, fatal shootings, rape of a female, grievous bodily harm / aggravated assault and theft of a vehicle which
are objective enough, not prone to interpretation, and which will serve
as the basis of our research as to which country is the more “violent.”
Below I give each of these, in order and
with their respective PRC and FBI – CUS definitions, so that you may see
there is no discernible difference in how they are defined, and thus
fit our purposes. In each section, I will then divide the number of
individual offences by our population samples. This should give us the
incidence or rate of that particular crime per group of 100,000 people.
We’ll begin with robbery.
“Robbery is an
offence in which force or the threat of force is used either during or
immediately prior to a theft or attempted theft. It covers a wide
variety of different incidents such as bank robberies or street
robberies, regardless of the amount of money or property stolen.” (THOSB – CEW page 61, paragraph 1.)
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines robbery as the taking or
attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control
of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by
putting the victim in fear.” (FBI – CUS – Robbery)
76,179 / 561 = 135.72
354,396 / 3116 = 113.7
You are thus 1.1x (135.7 / 113.7) more likely to suffer robbery in the UK than in the US.
record an offence of burglary if a person enters any building as a
trespasser and with intent to commit an offence of theft, GBH or
unlawful damage. Aggravated burglary occurs when the burglar is carrying
a firearm, imitation firearm, offensive weapon or explosive.” (UGHOCS, page 26, paragraph 9.)
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines burglary as the unlawful
entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. To classify an offense
as a burglary, the use of force to gain entry need not have occurred.
The UCR Program has three subclassifications for burglary: forcible
entry, unlawful entry where no force is used, and attempted forcible
entry. The UCR definition of “structure” includes apartment, barn, house
trailer or houseboat when used as a permanent dwelling, office,
railroad car (but not automobile), stable, and vessel (i.e., ship).” (FBI – CUS – Burglary)
258,148 / 561 = 460.1
burglary incidences: 2,188,005 (FBI – CUS
2,188,005 / 3116 = 702.1
You are thus 1.52x (702.1 / 460.1) more likely to suffer burglary in the US than in the UK.
HOMICIDE / MURDER: ==================================
manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.
Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways: 1) killing with the
intent for murder but where a partial defence applies, namely loss of
control, diminished responsibility or killing pursuant to a suicide
pact. 2) conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and
did kill, is manslaughter (“gross negligence manslaughter”); and 3)
conduct taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some
harm, that resulted in death, is manslaughter (“unlawful and dangerous
act manslaughter”). The term “involuntary manslaughter” is commonly used
to describe a manslaughter falling within (2) and (3) while (1) is
referred to as “voluntary manslaughter”. There are of course other
specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, and causing death
by dangerous or careless driving.” (CPS – LG)
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent
manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by
another. The classification of this offense is based solely on police
investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical
examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body. The UCR Program does
not include the following situations in this offense classification:
deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable
homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are
scored as aggravated assaults.” (FBI – CUS – Murder)
642 / 561 = 1.14
14,612 / 3116 = 4.6
You are thus 4.03x (4.6 / 1.14) more likely to be murdered in the US than in the UK.
KNIFE CRIME: ========================================
“The Home Office
has collected additional data from police forces on offences involving
knives and sharp instruments (referred to as ‘knife offences’ in the
remainder of this section) since April 2007. Knives are taken to be
involved in an incident if they are used to stab or cut, or as a threat.
In 2007/08 this group of offences consisted of attempted murder,
grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent, GBH without intent and robbery.
In 2008/09, the offence coverage was expanded to include offences of
threats to kill, actual bodily harm (ABH), sexual assault and rape.” (UGHOCS page 24, paragraph 6.)
“The UCR Program
further specifies that this type of assault is usually accompanied by
the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great
bodily harm. Attempted aggravated assault that involves the display
of—or threat to use—a gun, knife, or other weapon is included in this
crime category because serious personal injury would likely result if
the assault were completed.” (FBI – CUS – Aggravated Assault)
32,714 / 561 = 58.3.
incidences of knife crime: 19.1% of 751,131. (FBI – CUS
) = 142,714.89
142,714.89 / 3116 = 45.8
You are thus 1.27x (58.3 / 45.8) more likely to be knifed in the UK than in the US.
FATAL SHOOTINGS: ===================================
statistics for 2010/11 are available for police recorded crimes
involving the use of firearms other than air weapons (referred to as
‘firearm offences’ in the remainder of this section). Firearms are taken
to be involved in an incident if they are fired, used as a blunt
instrument against a person, or used in a threat.” (THOSB – CEW, page 63, paragraph 2.)
collected regarding type of weapon showed that firearms were used in
67.7 percent of the nation’s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and
21.2 percent of aggravated assaults. (Weapons data are not collected for
forcible rape.)” (FBI – CUS – Violent Crime)
55 / 561 = 0.09
incidences of fatal shootings: 67.7% (FBI – CUS[/url
) of 14,612 = 9892.2
9892.2 / 3116 = 3.17
You are thus 35.2x (3.17 / 0.09) more likely to be shot dead in the US than in the UK.
RAPE OF A FEMALE: ===================================
“Rape is the
legal category of rape introduced in legislation in 2003. It is the
penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth by a penis without consent.” (UGHOCS, page 25, paragraph 14.)
as defined in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, is the
carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Attempts or
assaults to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included;
however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses are
excluded.” (FBI – CUS – Forcible Rape)
14,624 / 561 = 26
incidences of rape of a female: 83,425 (FBI – CUS
83,425 / 3116 = 26.7
You are thus 1.02x (26.7 / 26) more likely to be raped as a female in the US than in the UK.
GRIEVOUS BODY HARM / AGGRAVATED ASSAULT: ==========
harm (GBH) includes injury resulting in permanent disability, more than
minor permanent disfigurement, broken bones, fractured skull, compound
fractures, substantial loss of blood, lengthy treatment or serious
psychiatric injury (based on expert evidence).” (UGHOCS, page 22, paragraph 11.)
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines aggravated assault as an
unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting
severe or aggravated bodily injury. The UCR Program further specifies
that this type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon
or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Assaults
that do not involve the use of a firearm, knife or cutting instrument,
or other dangerous weapon and in which the victim did not sustain
serious or aggravated injuries are reported as Other Assaults–Simple,
Not Aggravated.” (FBI – CUS – Aggravated Assault)
19,474 / 561 = 34.7
751,131 / 3116 = 241.05
You are thus 6.9x (241.05 / 34.7) more likely to suffer aggravated assault in the US than in the UK.
THEFT OF A VEHICLE: =================================
unauthorised taking of motor vehicle where the vehicle is taken without
the consent of the owner or other lawful authority; this includes
incidents where there is intent to permanently deprive the owner or
where intent is not evident, typically including ‘joyriding’ where the
car is later recovered.” (UGHOCS, page 28, paragraph 1.)
“In the FBI’s
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, motor vehicle theft is defined as
the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. In the UCR Program, a
motor vehicle is a self-propelled vehicle that runs on land surfaces and
not on rails. Examples of motor vehicles include sport utility
vehicles, automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, motor scooters,
all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles. Motor vehicle theft does not
include farm equipment, bulldozers, airplanes, construction equipment,
or water craft such as motorboats, sailboats, houseboats, or jet skis.
The taking of a motor vehicle for temporary use by persons having lawful
access is excluded from this definition.” (FBI – CUS – Motor vehicle theft)
99,277 / 561 = 176.9
715,373 / 3116 = 229.5
You are thus 1.29x (229.5 / 176.9) more likely to suffer theft of a vehicle in the US than in the UK.
While it becomes clear that certain types of offenses are marginally higher in the UK than in the US (robbery and knife crime being more likely in the UK by an order of 1.1x and 1.27x respectively) a number of other, more serious offenses, are both marginally and substantially higher in the US. Rape of a female is 1.02x more likely in the US, while theft of a vehicle is 1.29x more likely. More disturbingly, burglary is significantly higher at 1.52x more likely to occur in the US. However, it is at the considerably more, well, violent crimes that America really supersedes England and Wales into its own class. In the United States, you are 6.9x more likely to be the victim of aggravated assault resulting in serious injury than in the UK. You are 4.03x more likely to be murdered than in the UK. And more staggeringly (though not surprising) you are 35.2x more likely to be shot dead in the Unites States
than in the UK. Before anybody asks, no, these do not take into account
justifiable homicide and other “acceptable shootings”, nor do murders
for that matter:
“The UCR Program does not include the
following situations in this offense classification: deaths caused by
negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to
murder or assaults to murder, which are scored as aggravated assaults.” (FBI – UCS – Violent Crime)
What does this tell us? Well, maybe it is easier to say what this DOESN’T tell us. For starters, it DOESN’T tell us the UK is a more violent country than the US, and not even close. It DOES tell us that in fact, the United States is a lot more violent a country when it comes to serious offenses likely to result in serious injury, shootings or murder.It also tells us journalists, media outlets, bloggers, armchair political scientists and opinionated posters
don’t actually bother to go through the numbers and verify the facts
for themselves. Taking any information provided, by whichever source, at face value and without any attempt at critical thinking or even a small dose of scepticism is dangerous and seriously out of touch with reality. Never let your prejudices, emotions, political views or bias get in the way of your faculties and your critical thinking.
In sum, it becomes clear that an
objective comparison between any two countries types of offenses is a
difficult and time consuming endeavour. In order for it to be done
properly, matching definitions need to be found, and umbrella terms that
group large numbers of what one country may class as offenses and the
other not, must be avoided. Statistics must be broken down to their bare
bones and compared accurately and objectively if any meaningful
parallels are to be found. I hope that above, I have shown not only the
truth, but also nothing may ever be taken at face value. I would welcome
any others who decided to base their comments and views on similar
grounds, rather than the vitriolic and groundless drivel I will no doubt
be expecting. I don’t even expect more than a fraction of you will have
read this far.
And if you have, it is clear WHY the United States IS more violent than the UK.
EDITORIAL NOTE: ===============================================
The contents of this blog are posted as
is, and may be quoted, misquoted, misconstrued and misunderstood in
whichever manner the reader sees fit. I will not maintain, edit or allow
comments. The purpose of this is so that others may have a point of
reference when referring to the UK vs US guns debate. For this purpose,
I’ve added an easy PHP/Forum format post (top right corner) which will
allow you to quote this post in that format. Colour and sizes may vary
depending on forum format. Some editing may be necessary.
Outside of any actual technical or
mathematical errors, such as spelling, broken links, or a mathematical
mistake, I will not be further adding or editing the contents. If you
wish to report something of this nature, please e-mail me
UPDATE (08/02/2013): ============================================
It has come to my attention that there was a mistake in the original
calculation. While the article refers to the UK and counts its
population, the crime statistics for the UK encompass only those of
England and Wales. Thus, I mistakenly added the populated of Northern
Ireland and Scotland as constitutes the UK to the overall calculation.
This inflated the population by approximately 7,081,775 people, while
not taking into account the crime rate for those respective territories.
As such, the population has been revised to include only that of
England and Wales, to match the crime rates for those countries also.
Please bear in mind then that any instances of “UK” in the blog are
likely to refer only to “England and Wales.” The revised population
figure stands down from 63,181,775 to 56,100,000. This error skewed
the numbers for all figures marginally in favour of the US (ie with
higher crime rates for the UK) but not sufficiently to alter any of the
original findings significantly, nor reverse any of the findings
All relevant figures have been revised. I would also like to add that
under “Defining Violent Crime” I have added a small sub-section to
explain PRC in the UK (police recorded crime) IS
based on both findings before court AND findings after court.
Unsolved homicides ARE
included in these figures. Please see the relevant section for details and sources.
TL;dr? That’s fine. The US is more
violent in basically all ways that will either result in a serious
injury or death than the UK.