Homicide in England and Wales 1898 to 2012

Blog Category: Statistics

The latest crime figures for England and Wales confirm the drop in the murder rate is continuing. In the financial year 2011/12 there were 550 homicides initially recorded by police, compared to 638 in 2010/11. (Homicide being murder, manslaughter and infanticide)

Now put that into context with a look at the last 50 years, which shows that we are rapidly returning to levels last seen in the 1960s. (Note that the spike of 1047 in 2002/03 included the 172 victims attributed to Harold Shipman).

If you examine the 100 years between 1898 and 1997 you can see how homicide remained pretty steady (apart from spikes in 1942 and 1945) until the 1960s, when it shot upwards.

Whereas the population of England and Wales has grown steadily over the last two hundred years (there was no census data for 1941).

But what caused that rapid growth in homicides from the 1960s onwards? Was it the state of the economy, the new ‘permissive society’, a breakdown of ‘family values’, or the effect of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine? Or a complicated combination of these factors (and others, such as the way the data is recorded)? And why has that trend reversed? Heavier sentences? Better policing?

It has been suggested that the recent decrease is down to a sustained fall in the level of domestic violence, given that around two-thirds of murders are carried out by partners, former partners or family members. There now seems to be less tolerance of violence in society, perhaps driven by media coverage of crime.

Statistics from the ONS, Crime in England and Wales (released 19 July 2012), and Population estimates 2011 Census (released 16 July 2012).

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Comments

3 Comments

  1. Julius Marstrand says:

    It states “But what caused that rapid growth in homicides from the 1960s onwards? Was it the state of the economy, the new ‘permissive society’, a breakdown of ‘family values’, or the effect of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine? Or a complicated combination of these factors (and others, such as the way the data is recorded)? And why has that trend reversed? Heavier sentences? Better policing?”
    Without mentioning the abolition of the death penalty in 1965.
    What are the statistics for murder only during the period 1960 to 2015?
    What effect, if any, did the abolition of the death penalty have on these figures?
    The trend in homicides appears to reflect the population growth, is this the case?

  2. murdermap says:

    From a brief look at the population statistics there doesn’t appear to be any obvious correlation. (eg 1911 42m, 1961 52m, 2011 63m). The increase in homicides was mainly from 1960 until the late 1990s, and since then it has decreased.

    The abolition of the death penalty wouldn’t explain the massive increase in all types of crime from 1960s onwards… or the decrease since the late 1990s. Obviously this doesn’t mean it wasn’t a factor, just that it’s hard to know whether it was a significant factor or not.

  3. P Millington says:

    A simple way to check whether the death penalty is. Significant factor or not, is to introduce it in the UK ( following a referendum) and to observe what happens to the homicide rate for the ensuing years.

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