International Homicide Rates

Jim heartfield jim at
Thu Aug 19 01:57:40 PDT 1999

An interesting twist to the murder and crime panics in the UK is the _non_appearance of the Yardie panic this year. So far fifteen people have been shot dead in gang fighting between black dealers in Harlesden and elsewhere. In the past the British police made a huge deal about the influx of 'Yardie' drug dealers from Jamaica. In the late 1980s the police's high profile raids of black clubs were justified in terms of the war against the 'Yardies'.

Now, when killings are at an all-time high (though as Paul rightly notes, localised to this specific area and practice, and unlikely to influence the national rate by more than a percentage point) the police are keeping very quiet. Some reactionaries are trying to make an issue out of it: London's Evening Standard newspaper, the Conservative Party. But they have been met with a stony silence from the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police. After the Lawrence enquiry, making an issue about black crime is not high on the police agenda.

I should say, I'm relieved that this is so. The last Yardie scare led to grotesque criminalisation of blacks. (My second ever journalism assignment was looking for Yardies in Deptford in the 1980s). But it is interesting nonetheless that the police have played this one down.

In message <000001bee9b6$b57c6260$e49393c3 at paul>, Paul Wight <wight at> writes
>I was looking at the crime panics in the UK and had a hunch that somehow
>people were not becoming more violent or criminal, so I picked homicide as a
>reasonable measure of violence that seemed like it might be more objective
>and less susceptible to manipulation by whatever side. (A dead body is a
>dead body, you can't "up-rate " it to a more serious crime).
>For the UK I found the homicide rate to be static over the period of the
>surveys 1971-1996, at about 700pa (population did not move much from
>55-60M). About 70% of these homicides are committed by an immediate family
>member or partner. (Despite public perception it looks fairly difficult to
>meet a violent end)
>Oddly, many other "reported crime" rates increased enormously over this
>period. For example, Attempted Homicide seemed to triple over the time that
>there was no increase in the "achieved" homicide rate.
>So either we are all trying to kill each other and have coincidentally
>become just as incompetent as we are murderous, or more likely to me it
>seems, all the other crime figures have become inflated by social factors,
>which are interesting to consider. There were quite a few other fun things
>in there as well. Mind if I ask you what your interest is?
>-----Original Message-----
>From: owner-lbo-talk at [mailto:owner-lbo-talk at]
>On Behalf Of david dorkin
>Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 1999 7:23 PM
>To: lbo-talk at
>Subject: International Homicide Rates
>I was looking around for studies, data and comparisons of international
>homicide rates; anyone know of good online sources (I did find a good UN
>organization document but I dont remember where).
>Thanks in advance

-- Jim heartfield

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list