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The Realities of Murder Statistics in Other Countries

Submitted by Joel on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 06:35

So I was watching the BBC News the other day and they said that London was struggling with their high murder rate because they had over 100 murders already this year. I thought, "Only 100 murders? That doesn't seem right." When we were thinking about leaving, people kept warning us about the dangers of traveling abroad. We were promised theft and violence around every corner!

So onto the internet I went! First, I was shocked at the size of London... about 8.5 million people! For some reason, I figured London was large, but not as large as many cities in the US. But nope, same size (give or take) as the US's largest (by far) city, NYC. Then I thought, ok, I had seen that Houston had been doing a decent job recently for crime, let's compare London and Houston. At first, I thought they would be about the same population, but I was so far off!

In the last ten years, London's annual murder rate ranges from 83 to 148 murders/year. In Houston, it's 198 to 303 murders/year. The report I read about Houston was from a while ago, but looking at the numbers, it was apparently about 7 years ago, because it's started to rise again. In London, the high was from the oldest year, 2008. In Houston the highest was 2015. 

These numbers REALLY surprised me. Especially when you consider that Houston has a population of about a third of London. And that Houston isn't even in the top 25 most dangerous cities in the USA. Since London and New York City both have about the same population, they're compared a lot. For two months in 2018, London beat NYC in murders, which was a real story in the UK. You'd think that they would regularly be close in crime rates, but murder just isn't as common in London as it is in New York. And New York isn't even high on the list of dangerous cities in the US. It's actually barely in the top 50, depending on how you measure it. 

We also went to Germany and Cyprus. We flew through Berlin and Paphos and I wondered how those cities rated compared to London and NYC. Berlin saw 91 murders in 2017 with a population of 3.5 million (higher than Houston). As for Paphos, the entire country of Cyprus gets less than two dozen murders in a year. The island has a population of 1.2 million people. Of course, murder isn't the only form of violent crime, but it's the one that seems the most permanent to me. 

Needless to say, it made me feel better about traveling abroad. If you're worried about traveling, do some research and see what you might have to worry about where you're visiting. You might be surprised at what you find.