Sunday, December 19, 2004

Here's an interesting article about the problem of "knife crimes" in the UK, and whether the problem has been overblown. Probably the most interesing thing about this article to me is the question of the collection and interpretation of crime data, such as what constitutes a knife offense under British law and whether knives are an apparently increasing problem only because people are out looking for them. Its also interesting to read that the homicide statistics for 2002-2003 in the UK were higher than most years, but that this was because the crimes of serial killer doctor Harold Shipman were all counted for that period, even though the 172 victims counted were actually killed over a 20 year period. Its not hard to imagine US opponents of gun control using what would appear as a large rise in the murder rate over the course of one year as yet more "proof" that stricter British gun laws of recent years have lead to more crime. I remember hearing talk that a similar sort of spike in Vancouver area murder rates might occur because of the alleged crimes of Robert Picton, currently awaiting trial, would be counted for the year he was charged, and not the years they actually occured.

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