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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Do you feel less safe?
Official figures suggest that violent crime in England and Wales has risen over the last year.
The UK Home Office says reports of crimes such as robbery, wounding and racially-aggravated assault have jumped, while detection rates by police forces have decreased.
However, the British Crime Survey, which interviews people to find their experience of crime whether they reported it or not, suggests a 22% fall in those same violent offences.
The British Crime Survey is seen by some as a more accurate indicator of actual levels of crime, but is only published every two years.
Do you feel less safe? Do you think there is more or less violent crime these days? Have you been a victim of crime recently?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
To Ade Talabi, who wants to carry a gun for self-protection - forget about it. Self-defence is in this country the most appalling crime, and is punished with a life sentence. Between being mugged to death and life imprisonment for self-defence, I'd rather take the first.
Someone who drinks and drives seems to be punished more than someone who steals a car, causes untold damage to property trying to evade capture and is simply sent away to prison for a short length of time with a year's driving ban. If that person was to lose his own property, like items in his house - telly, video etc - to be sold and the proceeds given to the victims, then they may think twice about doing the deed in the first place. If they risk losing their house and the like then even better.
Surprisingly, and worryingly, the figures seem to suggest that "acquaintance crime" - attacks and fights between friends, work colleagues and even school children - is rising sharply, while levels of stranger crime have remained the same. What does that say about our society generally?
You think London is dangerous? Give me a break! I used to walk home across London on my own every night. No problems at all. In my first 3 months of living in Paris I was assaulted 3 times: once attempted mugging, once being touched up on the Métro and once an attempted sexual assault in a Métro station - and all of this was in the daytime! Nobody here came to help when I shouted. There is also no CCTV on French underground stations. Fortunately I know that people are a bit friendlier in London and there are CCTV cams everywhere; thus I feel a lot safer there. And before anyone even thinks I was wearing short skirts and low cut tops, that ain't my style!
Having said that, I think Europe is a lot more dangerous than the US, due to our huge population per square km. In LA last year, things were so safe that we didn't even bother to lock the car doors! Come on, US, give us some greencards so we can come and feel safer over there!
I have felt far less safe since the Labour party brought in a total ban on privately owned handguns. Now only the police and the criminals have handguns. Sadly, handgun crime has soared since the ban, according to the Home Office's official figures. It cost £1.2 billion to enforce the ban (yes £1.2 billion, that is not a typing error) and pay out compensation to legitimate gun owners and the former UK handgun industry. That's enough money to fund an awful lot of policemen, nurses and teachers. Have we had value for money? Clearly, no.
Bad law is perhaps the worst form of tyranny in this modern age. New Labour have proved themselves to be one of the worst exponents of creating, and forcing through Parliament, repressive and ineffective legislation. Oh, if only we had a credible and effective opposition...
Victorian England was notoriously violent and many 'third' world nations are very dangerous, with roaming bandits and armed political groups of the extreme left and right. So it is all relative. As many people pointed out, if you avoid pubs at closing time and rundown urban areas, it is not hard to avoid trouble. Things are not so bad!
I'm not surprised that the number of REPORTED street crimes is decreasing, just as reported burglaries went down when those in vulnerable areas became unable to afford contents insurance.
I never carry credit or bank cards. If I am mugged for cash only and not seriously injured, why on earth should I report it to the police? They certainly don't want to know.
I feel vulnerable, but I worry more for my wife and young family.
I moved from a valley in South Wales to a city in England. I feel much safer here. I don't think it's down to the Government but down to our police force on Merseyside. After moving here, I saw more police in a week than I did in 6 months in the Welsh valley.
Alastair Stevens, Bristol UK
We can all feel safer now that dangerous man Lord Archer is off the streets.
I feel very safe in the knowledge that if anyone steals my Porsche they only need to commit a minor motoring offence before every police officer for miles around descends on them.
When I'm in London with over £100 in my wallet I feel vulnerable. Walking around NYC with about $500 cash in my wallet I felt perfectly safe. So much for higher crime. Cash aside, I felt safer in Central Park at 9pm than I do in the West End at a similar time.
Toby Esyerhasie, London
John, UK, is totally mistaken. He claims "The number of violent crimes committed throughout the entire UK is actually lower than for the single US city of Los Angeles". Sorry John, that's totally untrue. Firstly compare the places - LA has less than 10 million people, the UK has 60 million. Study after study places the UK rate of violet crime (rape, assault, murder, etc) as being the highest in the Western world, and now noticeably higher than the USA, but hey, whose paying attention to reality, while fiction suffices for anti-American liberals.
I left the UK for different reasons, but the crime rate there seems to be escalating. I have lived in four countries, including the USA. The main problem seems to be lack of education. Japan has a high level of education and the lowest level of crime in the world. It is also to do with attitude and knowing what is right and wrong and acting accordingly. People have much more respect for each other in Japan. The British government could take lessons in looking at people's attitudes in other countries. Britain needs to educate its people out of this culture of violence and criminality.
Unfortunately in these days of drugs and high-tech goods, crime pays, that's the driving force. Until the force of law is made the greater then crime will always pay. No, I do not feel safe.
People don't go out at night as it's not safe any more - I don't. If I do go for a pint - I don't drink much - I go in my car. I don't want to drive but it is safer to do so than get my head kicked in. We want more law and order and the criminals punished hard. There are to many do-gooders these days. Get rid of them
I live in the country, here I feel safe. Twenty-five years ago I went to work in London every day, and felt OK, but now when I return to London, or any big city, (Bristol is just as bad,) I feel nervous and can't wait to get away. I know it is politically incorrect to say so, but I find the feeling of being surrounded by people whose languages I don't understand is one of the main triggers.
In my area I see crime getting worse. There is drug-dealing taking place openly on the streets,assaults and muggings are regular events and criminal damage is a daily event.
The problem is threefold.. 1) Not enough Police. 2)Even if people are caught they are treated so leniently by the courts that it is no deterrent. 3) Our whole society is so obsessed with the rights of the individual and Political Correctness that we have forgotten the right to NOT be a victim of crime should be a primary concern.
The first two can be solved by money and politicians the third is far more difficult.
It's perfectly acceptable to assault people when angered or frustrated. This was demonstrated by the Deputy Prime Minister during the election campaign.
I've just come back from a holiday in Zimbabwe. I felt safer in Harare than I do in London.
It's worth remembering that reported crime levels actually increase as the numbers of police are increased, because they get a chance to process more crime. Reported crime is actually a fairly meaningless statistic.
Last night my local newspaper reported two violent assaults by parents in defence of children who in each case had been making other people's lives miserable. This is also not an uncommon scenario in inner city schools with parents attacking teachers who reprimand their children. What these children learn from their parents is a complete lack of respect for people's right to live in peace and feel safe. The government needs to re-empower and support those in society (teachers and the police) who can provide a framework within which these children at least can experience authority and learn respect for others.
It could be argued that I shouldn't have to do this, but the fact is that if I want to avoid these crimes it's best to alter my lifestyle slightly to make things easier on myself than whine about it when crimes that could have been avoided happen to me. As a result I don't feel unsafe at all, and haven't had any crime (violent or other) committed on my person since I left school. Maybe I'm just that bit luckier, but I don't think so.
I have first-hand experience of alcohol-fuelled violent crime, and sadly, I see unprovoked bloody incidents of violence increasing as the years roll by. I certainly do not feel any safer.. perhaps it is time for a change of career!
For those people who claim that being allowed to own firearms is the best solutions, statistics actually show that (in the USA) the number of deaths of other family members caused by accidental discharge of a gun is FAR higher than those caused by gun use in anger. Therefore, if you want to protect your family, the worst possible decision is to buy a gun. It is far, far more likely that the gun will end up killing or injuring one of your family than that it will ever be used to deter or kill intruders. This is another example of American idiocy (if any more were needed). You don't solve violence with violence - prevention (through improved education and living conditions) and protection by police and security measures are far more effective.
Comparisons between UK crime rates and those of other countries are hard to make as the statistical techniques behind compiling those figures vary considerably. To J. Cowan of the USA, however, I would just like to point out that if a criminal intends to burgle your home and suspects you may have a gun, it's not likely to put him or her off, it just makes it more likely he or she will go about their business similarly armed.
P. Richardson, UK
Stephen from the USA needs to get his facts straight. The number of violent crimes committed throughout the entire UK is actually lower than for the single US city of Los Angeles. Looking at murder (the most violent crime of all), we murder about a tenth as many people per capita as the USA.
Addressing the broader theme, I feel pretty safe. Most violent crime is committed by young males on other young males - the attacks on women, pensioners and children that the press love to regale us with are thankfully very rare. Interestingly, those who are statistically the safest feel the most vulnerable, and those most likely to be victims feel least threatened. Why don't we ask ourselves why that is?
Andrew Otty, England
Violent crime is a symptom of a sick society, based on 'economic self interest' i.e. greed. Is it surprising those who lose out express their frustration in this way? Of course we feel less 'safe' as a result.
Gerry, not all of the 14-20 age group you described are that way. I certainly am not, and I quite willingly hold open doors for people with nothing so much as a thank you.
We here in the US do not live in the "Wild West". Some of us believe in the right to defend oneself and family. Maybe someday you will realise that the law can't be everywhere. And if a would-be "criminal" came to your house with the intent of doing your family harm, but there was a possibility of you possessing a firearm he/she might think twice.
In response to Ade Talabi's idea to carry his own gun, I can only hope and pray that this never happens. If individuals were allowed to carry guns crime would rise not lessen.
We don't want the "Wild West" played out on our streets.
I do not feel less safe but I do feel very frustrated with the impunity with which the 14 to 20 age group carry on. Not just criminality, but the smaller things such as general vandalism and verbal abuse. The most frustrating thing of all is that the police seem powerless to help you but should you break at the end of your tether and fight back they are around at the drop of a hat to arrest you.
As an expat I'm only exposed to the increasing violence through the media and family links back home. But what this all tells me is that much as I love England and the English way of life, I'm in no rush to come home and my wife shares these views also. How sad is that?
Gillian White, Scotland
I can't say I do, unless I happen to be strolling through one of the parts of town that have turned into licensed bar areas, where a dozen identical but differently named booze chains flog large quantities of alcohol to underage drinkers. Everywhere else I feel as safe as I did ten or twenty years ago.
I feel there is too much time and money spent on targeting the motorist than any other crime. I realise that speeding/dangerous driving is an issue that needs to dealt with. However, it is rather frustrating to read about the police looking at ways to prevent people doing the 'v' sign to the speed cameras and yet they don't want to have anything to do with youngsters hanging around street corners or intimidating people in their own houses.
It is not feeling "less safe" that gets me. It is the lack of ability to defend property/self that annoys me. It I want to wire my motorbike to the mains for security then I should be able to. If someone breaks into my garage to nick it and gets electrocuted then it is their own fault, not mine.
I feel less safe alright. When will I be able to carry my own gun?
19 Jul 01 | UK
Violent crime on the rise
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