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UK becoming much less violent – IEP

Rates of violent crime in the UK have fallen more rapidly over the past ten years than anywhere else in Western Europe, the UK Peace Index shows.

The data from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) found the number of homicides per 100,000 people fell from 1.99 in 2003 to 1 in 2012. The violent crime rate is down from 1,255 to 933, despite a 6% decrease in police numbers.

The UK is overall becoming much more peaceful, the institute says, with peace defined as an “absence of violence or fear of violence” and uses Home Office data on crime and police officer numbers. Of the 343 local authorities evaluated, 80% had seen at least a 10% improvement in peace over the last decade, with the most peaceful area identified as Broadland in Norfolk.

The five least peaceful authorities were all in London, with Lewisham the worst. It has a homicide rate of 2.5 in 2012 – far greater than the UK average.

The IEP found that extreme poverty is most closely associated with violence, whereas the number of police officers had no correlation. Fear of crime is also far higher than actual incidence; 25% of people believe they will be the victim of a crime, while only 4% experience crime in a year.

The report said: “This is the fastest decline in violence of any country in Europe. Cross-checking Home Office and Eurostat data against a number of metrics, such as hospital admissions, the UKPI shows that this dramatic fall is not a blip in police reporting – the UK really is becoming more peaceful.

“Reasons for this fall in violence are varied, however one of the more likely reasons, often overlooked, is the substantial improvement in police practices particularly related to the adoption of advanced technologies.

“Other factors which have had an impact in reducing violence include an aging population, decreasing alcohol consumption and, finally, rising real wages, supported by the introduction of the minimum wage.”

IEP chairman Steve Killelea added: “The findings of the UK Peace Index show that poverty and economic opportunity are significantly associated with peace, as supported by other international studies, including the US Peace Index.

“This suggests greater emphasis needs to be placed on programmes that tackle poverty and related issues, such as access to education and economic opportunity.”

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