Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Protecting the Public?

"Those figures show that the murder rate is not soaring as a result of the abolition of capital punishment but remains remarkably stable." - Then Home Secretary James Callaghan on the abolition of hanging in the UK - December 1969.

"The rate of homicides peaked in the mid-1990s. In 1995 14.5 homicides were committed per million of population. Since the early 1960s the number of homicides per million population has more than doubled." - Page 15, House of Commons Research Paper, 'A century of change, trends in UK statistics since 1900.'

5 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

To be fair, you can't attribute all of this just to ending capital punishment - at the time murder was supposed to be punishable by life in prison.

But sentences have become ever more lenient, so it would make more sense to plot a graph of 'average length of time served in prison by murderers' against 'number of murders'.

If the number of murders were directly correlated to the fact that we no longer have capital punishment, you would expect to see a one off increase as soon as capital punishment stopped but stable thereafter.

Snafu said...

It seems to be quite a strong correlation though! Capital punishment does not prevent murder but it kept the rate constant.

Mark, if anything, I'd expect the murder rate to decline over time as advances in DNA profiling etc increased the chances of being caught!

Lurkingblackhat said...

That piece of research is out of date. The figures have been revised by the Home Office and the actually carried on increasing after the mid 1990's.

Source 1968 to 2005
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/hosb0206.pdf

Year and homicide per million in England and Wales

1968 7.4
1969 6.8
1970 7.0
1971 8.3
1972 8.3
1973 8.0
1974 10.7
1975 9.0
1976 9.9
1977 8.5
1978 9.6
1979 11.1
1980 11.1
1981 10.1
1982 11.2
1983 9.7
1984 10.8
1985 10.7
1986 11.2
1987 11.9
1988 10.9
1989 10.3
1990 10.9
1991 12.3
1992 11.4
1993 11.1
1994 12.4
1995 13.0
1996 11.4
1997 11.9
1997/98 11.8
1998/99 12.5
1999/00 13.0
2000/01 14.9
2001/02 15.4
2002/03 18.2
2003/04 15.0
2004/05 15.5

Basically the rate

1900 9.5 per million

There was a stead decrease to

early 1960's 6.2 per million

Since 1965 there has been a stead increase.

2006 15.5 per million

(2003 is a blip as Dr Shipman's cases were all recorded in that year).

From the Home Office's own figures the fact is that the murder rate was in steady decline for 60 odd years right until the removal of the death penalty. Since 1965 the murder rate has kept going up and is now 250% higher.

Snafu said...

Lurkingblackhat, thanks for the update!

Mark Wadsworth said...

S, yes, we would expect conviction rates to increase as a result of DNA and so on, but not necessarily murder rates.

LBH's stats are spot on, I have these in my 'stats an stuff' section, but they neither prove nor disprove my (modified) theory that the steady increase relates to increasingly lenient sentences for ALL violent offenders.

You often read about murderers with loads of previous convictions for violent crimes.

Ergo, the best way to reduce murder rate is to keep these bastards off the streets for as long as possible.