I came across some very interesting numbers recently on violent crime in the US and the UK. According to the FBI statistics the US police and Federal criminal agencies recorded 1.2 million "violent crimes" which includes all murders, assaults involving violence and weapons and physical assaults, in 2012. With a population of 314 million, this means there were 380 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the population. By contrast, British Police recorded 1.94 million violent crimes for the same period. As the UK population is 63 million, this means we had 3,100 "violent crimes" per 100,000 people - which is, frankly, shocking.
I suspect that the reasons for this discrepancy are much more complex than it appears, though some in the US are already pointing to the ownership of firearms as one reason their "violent crime" statistics are falling while ours are rising. I don't think it is that simple, though I do believe that our lack of a clear-cut right of "self-defence" may be a contributory factor. When a pensioner defending himself from a robber with a walking stick can be charged and convicted of "assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm" because a jury of the robber's supporters felt his response to being relieved of his wallet was "disproportionate," it should be no surprise that people are afraid to retaliate. Frankly, the UK legal system is a mess, with only the criminal element and their lawyers standing to benefit from it.
For me the biggest question is, what are we doing about reducing the violent crime rate? Patently the 'softly, softly,' regime our courts are adopting doesn't work. Patently our laws are being bent and abused by criminals, yet our politicians are afraid to adopt a harder line. We know that juries are being intimidated by supporters of the accused - but we do nothing about it. We know that "suspended sentences" are seldom imposed - a recent report actually highlights the fact that many criminals convicted of violent crimes flout their paroles, flout the threat of suspended sentences and are "given another chance" by soft touch judges.
Perhaps the US arms lobby has a point. After all, a criminal who's been shot dead during his attempted crime, doesn't repeat the offence - ever. No, I'm not an advocate of everyone having free and easy access to a firearm, but it is certainly no coincidence that, since the Blair ban on the ownership of handguns, gun crime in the UK has shot through the roof and is, no doubt, a major factor in the violent crime statistics I've quoted above ...
The question remains, what is being done about it?
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