Someone stopped by searching for “compare us vs british murder rates.”
If good data were available, I would gladly do precisely that, since I enjoy gathering and comparing statistics. Unfortunately, trying to compare the United States and England’s homicide rates is much like trying to compare a country that counts all fatal automobile accidents to one that only counts fatalities caused by wrong way drivers on divided highways.
Excepting some manual strangulations, murders are usually hard to miss. You have a dead body, you have icky stuff oozing out of it, and there’s no problem identifying most murder victims as murder victims.
The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation adds up all the dead bodies that are reported to it and says that – for 2011 – there were 14,412 homicides of which 12,664 were murders among 311,591,917 Americans for a murder rate of 4.06 per 100,000.
The Home office totals up the victims of murderers who have either died or suicided before trial or have been tried, convicted, and who have exhausted their appeals and solemnly announces there were – well click on the link (PDF) and scroll to page 57; or click on this image for a clearer view and read it yourself –
– 642 “offenses of homicide” among a population of 53,013,000; for a homicide rate of 1.21 per 100,000. So England’s murder rate is 29.8 percent of the United States, right? Wrong.
Why? It is a matter of policy. As Chief Inspector Colin Greenwood points out here, the Home Office believes it unfair to brand a man a murderer until he has been tried, convicted, and exhausted his appeals.
As a result, murders that have not been solved are not included. If indications in the Telegraph are correct, that would substantially reduce the homicide rate in itself. Murders that have resulted in an arrest but no conviction are not counted. Convictions that have not been appealed are apparently not counted. And the number of minorities reported as murder victims is far below either the demographics or of reason.
If the media reports of a total of 4,760 “violent fatalities of interest to the police” from 1 January 2011 to 30 November 2012 are correct, the murder rate is 4.7 per 100,000 population, the same as our much more inclusive homicide rate, and substantially higher than the United States murder rate.
Of course, the British murder rate is likely to be much higher than 4.7. British police are notorious for “fiddling” with the crime data. Including murder data. It takes less effort to fail to report a crime to the media than it does to consistently report crimes.
If everything is taken into account, England most probably has a murder rate close to 6 per 100,000. Or more.