On the face of it, England and Wales have recently a huge drop in crime. Newly released statistics from the Office for National Statistics show a 6% drop in crime across the board in the year 2011/2012.
This includes a 10% fall in murders. In the year ending September 2012 England and Wales saw just 551 murders across the board, the Times of London reports. That is the lowest figure for since 1978, and a little over twice the number a US city like Baltimore had last year.
Perhaps the most impressive trend has been a huge drop in gun crime. The Independent reports that gun crime is down 40% over the past decade, with just 39 people shot dead across the entire of England and Wales between 2011 and 2012.
In part this seems to be down to improved police intelligence, but a simple shortage of weapons also seems to be a factor. One 2006 study found that a “new” semi-automatic handgun with ammunition could be bought for £1,000 ($1,500) in the UK criminal underworld. Another criminal case last year showed smugglers were hoping to sell similar weapons for £3,500 ($5,500).
Of course, not everyone is convinced by the statistics. ONS statistician John Flatley said that there may have been a fall in police-reported crimes in an effort to meet targets. "It's more the culture and informal pressure of having targets and expectations," he said, according to the BBC.
Opposition leaders today called on the government to investigate any apparent discrepancies.
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