[extropy-chat] FWD [forteana] Gun control [was Re: the road tohell]

Steve Davies Steve365 at btinternet.com
Sat Apr 3 20:44:55 UTC 2004

Mike Lorrey said

> Yes, even within the British government (even to the point of different
> stats on different sheets in the same exact Excel file). The British
> Crime Survey, which surveys British subjects about their experiences
> with crime, reports a decrease in crime. However, the actual crime
> reported in the Crime Index (buried on sheet 3) shows a vast increase
> in actual crimes. See:
> Actual reported crime:
> http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/703chap3.xls
> "BCS Crime":
> http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/701chap3.xls
> Total violent crime has risen from 331,000+ in 1998-99 to over 991,000+
> in 2003. Homicides have risen from 750 to 1,048 in the same time
> period. Total property crime has risen from over 4 million to over 4.6
> million. Total crime has risen from 4.5 million to 5.9 million.
> In response, the Home Office has instituted a 'crime reduction' program
> which does nothing but tweak the stats by reporting multiple crimes by
> one perp on one day as one crime. The BCS survey also cherry picks
> certain crime categories, rather than the more complete Crime Index.
> Homicides of any kind, for example, are not included in the BCS.
The two sets of figures have very different sources. The official Home
Office statistics, compiled annually, are the result of combining figures
for all crimes 'known to' or 'reported to' the various police forces and a
few other agencies such as Customs. As such they provide a picture of the
working of the criminal justice system and of the state of crime as known to
the institutions of the CJS. However the big problem is that they don't
include the 'dark figure' of crime that has happened but not been reported
or otherwise become known to the police at al. In response to this the
British Crime Survey was started in 1981. It is the result of a survey
carried out every other year by the Office of Population Censuses and
Surveys, of a large and representative sample of the general public. The
basic question is "Have you personally been the victim of a crime in the
last 12 months ?" Might explain why homicide isn't there? :) The figures
from the BCS are actually more accurate than the Home Office stats because
they are less affected by the 'Dark Figure' problem. One of the things the
BCS made clear when it began was that the official statistics seriously
understated the rise in crime that was going on in the 1980s/early 1990s
because the reporting rates for many crimes were revealed to be extremely
low (particularly for assault, aggravated assault and criminal damage). The
reporting rates for several crimes have gone up in the last ten years,
mainly due to insurance rules (e.g burglary, robbery). The nonsense Mike
refers to of counting all crimes perpetrated by one offender on a given day
as a single crime (so long as they're in the same 'class' - there are five
'classes') stopped this year, in response to pressure from the EU (that's
why there appears to be a big increase in certain types of crime in the last
six months). It wasn't new, the Home Office has been recording crime in this
daft way since the 1920s. If you look at the more accurate BCS figures the
pattern is that there has been a decline in most kinds of property crime
since 1995. However there has been a big rise in violent crime over the same
period (proportionally it remains the case that the great majority of crime
is property offences of various kinds). As well as a big rise in homicide,
there's been an even bigger one in common assault, aggravated assault,
assault and battery, wounding and robbery. Britain's per capita rates for
these kinds of crime are now higher than the US rates and much higher than
the rates for historically low crime regions such as New England. Part of
this is cyclical - violent crime rises during periods of economic growth and
declines during slumps (property crime has the opposite pattern) but the
increase is well above the historic trend. Another reason is the disastrous
effects of the 'War on drugs' - the case in Salford may have been a
'business dispute' - we had a fatal shooting of that kind just around the
corner from where I live, a couple of streets away. The other reason is the
one alluded to, not so much control of guns (that has been strict ever since
it was introduced in 1922) as the way the historic right of self-defense has
been construed in ever more limited terms in the last ten years, regardless
of what you use. The pressure for this does NOT come from politicians btw,
it comes from the professionals of the CJS (lawyers, judges, prosecutors,
police). The final factor is the unbelievable ineptitude and incompetence of
the police and other law enforcement agencies. You would not believe how bad
it is until you've experienced it yourself.

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