Here are some statistical trends relating to crime, victimization and related opinions that we have derived from police, NCVS and opinion poll data, taken from the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics and others and then converted into graphs and PDFs for your downloading needs. These data are valuable in crime discussions because, as they reveal, crime has been on the downswing for quite a while. However, at the same time public fears and worry about crime remain extraordinarily high. Since so much of the debate about what we should do about crime incorrectly assumes we are in the middle of a crime wave, that crime is increasing, and that all of us do or should live in fear, it makes it exceedingly difficult to have rational debates about crime control. Politicians know their constituencies are scared to death and the media has a heavy investment in continuously reporting crime stories. So, if you're here and have an interest in learning some of the facts perhaps it will be a step in the right direction. Additional links on crime data and how to interpret them can be found at The Redwood Highway, especially this page.
These are police data for these offenses from 1971-2005; in some graphs the years are numbered 1-35 rather than 1971-2005. Points for discussion: 1) why are Western rates higher than those of other regions? 2) where and why are there slight 2004-5 increases and decreases?
California's data are revealing because they show how we depart from Western regional trends in UCR data (above).
Victimization data show the steady decline and leveling of the six offenses used for comparison with UCR data. These are not broken out by region. Note that the denominator changes when looking at NCVS data (it's victimizations per 1,000 rather than arrests per 100,000 population for police data presented above).
Is there more crime in the U.S. than there was a year ago, or less? (from Gallup via the Sourcebook)
How often do you, yourself, worry about the following things (ditto)
So there you have it. Now the question: why are we so worried and afraid about being a crime victim, and why do we think crime is constantly increasing, if crime is declining and serious victimization is relatively low and falling?