How does one compare crime statistics of the world if different countries use different methods to compile crime statistics and many manipulate their crime data? And some others under report crimes?
I found out that of all violent crimes, murders were the most likely to be reported with accuracy…and murder data was also least likely to be tampered with. Perhaps that is why I thought that the homicide rate is a good measure of how violent a particular country is. It says here:
A country’s rate of homicide (number of homicides as compared to the population) tends to be viewed by criminologists as a relatively unbiased measure of its level of violence. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that the serious nature of homicide makes it the least likely of all offence types to be unreported and undetected.
I collected the homicide rates of different countries from one source, Nationmaster.com:
Murders per 1000 people, from highest to lowest:
South Africa: 0.0562789
Japan has the least violent crime. India doesn’t fare too well. But why am I not comparing the total crime figures, which paint a better picture of India’s crime rate? Well, I don’t trust the total crime figures. But what proof do I have that crime in India or any other country is underreported? And by how much is it underreported anyway? Unless I find that out I won’t get any idea of the actual level of crime in this country.
I found a way to work it out but it’s my own way, and my own theory and you are welcome to give me feedback. I have based my analysis on three assumptions:
1) Homicides are more accurately reported than assaults or rapes
2) Some countries are reputed to report crime more accurately than others
3) There is a relationship between a violent crime like homicide and other violent crimes like assaults and rapes and this relationship is approximately true for all human societies.
If you don’t agree with any of these assumptions, its unlikely that you will agree with my analysis.
I used countries like Germany, Denmark, France and the US as my barometer…of correct crime reporting.
I took the actual numbers from ONE source (nationmaster) but have not given them here due to the clutter it would create. They are available at their site. Also these are NOT the latest figures as it was important to get all the figures from ONE source to get a proper comparison. In any case, as I used the comparisons that I made, the actual figures meant less.
ALL the approximate comparisons, ratios, graph and calculations and analysis is mine. (yep, it took hours to do and opologize in advance for any mistakes). OK here goes:
Data for countries which report crime accurately:
1) The 177 times more assaults than murders
2) 25 times more assaults than rapes
3) 7 times more rapes as compared to murders.
1) 121 times more assaults than murders
2) 15 and a half times more assaults than rapes
3) 8 times more rapes as compared to murders.
1) 100 times as many assaults as murders
2) 12 and a half times as many assaults as rapes
3) 8 times more rapes as compared to murders.
1) 169 times more assaults than murders
2) Almost 20 times more assaults than rapes
3) 8 and a half times more rapes than murders
Tentative conclusions reached:
1) Assaults are a hundred times and more than the murders in these countries
2) Assaults range from 12-25 times more than rapes
3) And almost all these four countries had 7-8 times more rapes than murders
If these ratios are taken as a kind of benchmark (because of their accurate crime reportage), Japan doesn’t compare favorably.
1) Just 67 more assaults than murders
2) 19 times as many assaults as rapes
3) 3 and a half times as many rapes as murders
After I discovered this, I searched the net and found, not surprisingly, that Japan is known to underreport crime. Assuming that the murder figures are better reported, then it means that assaults are underreported. And so are rapes…because inspite of assaults being underreported, the ratio of assaults to rapes seems to match with the four benchmark countries.
In Japan overall violent crime is far less because of the low rate of homicide… but clearly other smaller violent crimes like assault and rapes are not being reported accurately. Japan is known by everyone to be a very safe place.
India’s figures are shocking!
1) There are only about six and a half times as many assaults in India as murders!
2) 15 times as many assaults as rapes.
3) 2 and a half times more murders as compared to rapes.
These statistics look skewed to me. Assaults are usually more than a hundred times that of murders….but in India the figure is only six and a half times!
But not only are assaults underreported in India, so are rapes. Assaults are about 15 times more than that of rapes and this ratio seems to match with the benchmark countries…which shows how inaccurately rapes are reported.
Considering the reluctance of our police to report minor crimes (various reasons like overwork) combined with the reluctance of our public to report smaller crimes to avoid police harassment and the slow justice system, this is not surprising. In India anyway its a known fact that people do not report minor assaults…if they do the police will simply turn them away. Even in cases of serious fights the police do not register cases.
One of the reasons why the number of assaults are so high in the benchmark countries is because at times even trivial incidents (like what happened when actor Russell Crowe was arrested and charged for throwing a telephone at an employee of the Manhattan hotel) are taken into account. I do know know the percentage of such smaller incidents unfortunately…but in the absence of that I have used the total assault figures and related it to the number of murders. In any case, even if one minuses the trivial assault incidents (how many can there be?) India doesn’t look too good. The conclusion I drew about Japan may be wrong though.
In India, it is generally known that rapes are underreported, due to the stigma associated with rape. Japan too is a traditional society and it makes sense if there is a stigma against rape there too.
You will wonder why I am comparing Japan and India…well, that is because I could not get accurate data for China or Pakistan.
What makes the Indian situation worse is that there are two and half times MORE murders as compared to rapes! Now this is impossible. Remember that in the benchmark countries rapes are about 7-8 times more than that of murders. Rapes are more, not murders!! No one knows how many women are raped in India. Why, in our country marital rape is not a crime.
This is a graph I made…showing the number of assaults and rapes for every murder in certain countries. I did not take Britain into account as their assault figures are so high (do not know the reason for this) that it was making the graph a little difficult to read.
I am saying that as the US, Denmark, Germany and France have more accurate assault and rape crime figures than countries like India, South Korea and South Africa…they can be used to show the level of underreporting in other countries.
India scores pretty badly. But remember that:
1) Policing in India is poor (most policemen are on security duty!)
2) Our courts are slow
3) Corruption amongst government officials including magistrates and judges and policemen is rampant.
For these reasons criminals know they can get away with crime, specially if they are well connnected and/or have money to throw around. Considering this, I think our crime rates are not too bad.
Update: 2nd June 2008. The latest statistics released by
the National Crime Records Bureau has this information on the murders
in the world (as mentioned above homicides are usually accurately
India - 32,719
Pakistan – 9,631
United States – 16,692
South Africa - 30,960
Austria – 148
Israel – 177
However as mentioned above these statistics have to be compared to population and when it comes to population and rate of murders per thousand population then India does not score too badly.
There were some other interesting statistics released by this same report and they being the latest I thought I would add them here:
Japan – 17,25,072 maximum in the world seems on the higher side to me as Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. People tell me you can leave your door open and go out. Either these statistics are wrong or very minor incidents have been included.
India – 22,814 (only serious cases)
US – 2,31,13,708
India – 50,26,337 only
US – 93,934
South Africa – 54,926
India – 18,359 and 44,159 incidents of sexual offence
But as mentioned above all crime cases or sexual assaults do not always reflect the reality on the ground about the actual crimes committed.