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Wednesday, August 19, 1998 Published at 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK


The United States of murder

Washington DC heads the homicide poll

Washington DC has come top in a poll of the world's murder capitals.

A survey conducted by the UK Home Office of 20 European and nine North American cities put the US capital way out in front with a murder rate of 69.3 per 100,000 population.

That suggests Washington is about 170 times more dangerous than the Belgian capital, Brussels, which came bottom with 0.4 murders per 100,000.

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Washington was a long way ahead of the second most murderous city, Philadelphia, which had a rate of 27.4.

The nine American cities in the survey all came in the top 12 of the poll. San Diego had the lowest rate with 8 homicides per 100,000.

Only three European cities came out worse.

Dangerous city

Moscow, contending with the rise of the Russian mafia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was the most dangerous European city in the survey with 18.1 killings per 100,000. Helsinki and Lisbon also ranked highly.

London came fifth from bottom with an average of 2.1 cases of murder, infanticide or manslaughter per 100,000.

Belfast was the most dangerous UK city in the survey with a death rate of 4.4. Edinburgh's figure was 2.4.

The UK Home Secretary, Jack Straw, said it was one league table in which the UK was happy to fall near the bottom.

He said: "Few people would have guessed that both Amsterdam (7.7) and Lisbon (9.7) have murder rates over three times higher than that of London.

"Moreover despite the impact of zero tolerance policies, New York City's homicide rate - at 16.8 - is eight times London's."

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