Not quite what the papers say

Did you know that crime in London fell by 6% last year? Weird, considering the hysterical paranoia in broadsheet papers and tabloid blogs alike.

Yes, I know that reported crime figures are seldom accurate, which is why people who claim things like “Rape offences have increased ELEVENFOLD” are being dishonest (this is because women now feel more able to report acquaintance rape to the police and know that they’ll at least be listened to, even if the rapist is still unlikely to be convicted). So let’s look at the murder rate – even the most jaded sceptics believe that murder figures are a fair reflection of the truth…

Plus, we know that London is full of Terrible Murders, and you can barely go out in the street without being shanked or shot by a feral youth. It must be true – Boris says so (to be fair, he’s better acquainted than most of us with lairy dangerous thugs). Mass immigration under ZaNu Labour has destabilised society, filling London with people who’re just more genetically suited to being violent demented thugs (note: horrible BNP loony).

So it’s a bit weird that last year had the lowest murder rate in London since 1998, that murder has been falling in London for the last four years, and that this trend shows no sign of stopping. Almost as if the tabloids and pub bores were talking absolute nonsense, in fact…

Everything you know is wrong

Why bother writing about this false perception? Well, because it matters. If The Man On The Clapham Omnibus thinks he’s likely to be murdered as said omnibus passes through Kennington, that will affect his behaviour, his lifestyle patterns and his voting patters. It’d be unfortunate if ‘white flight’ became a reality despite the fact that there’s nothing really to flee from.

Indeed, there’s doubly nothing for most of us to flee from.

This point is difficult to address without being called a callous bastard by people on the left and the right, but it’s really really important and entirely true: nearly all of the serious violent crime [*] that happens in London happens to people who choose to move in criminal circles. Gangs seldom shoot or knife people just for fun – they shoot or knife people who’re in rival gangs, or who’ve nicked their money, or who’re trying to sell drugs on their turf.

Yes, obviously this is a bad thing and we should hunt them down and lock them up and address the root causes, and all of that. Operation Trident is great, and we should give the Met more money to spend on tackling gang and gun culture.

Anyway, the countryside keeps Miss Marple busy

All that said, if you are someone in London who is not a gang member and is not planning to join a gang any time soon, then the effective serious crime rate you face is closer to a retired colonel in Stow-on-the-Wold than to London’s total serious crimes divided by its total population.

And that’s seriously important to people’s decisionmaking. If I faced the same risk of being a target of violent crime as a gang member, then I’d get the hell out of London, possibly stopping for half an hour to pack my stuff.

However, since I know that my chances of being a victim of anything more serious than getting my wallet pinched or getting thumped by [**] a pissed-up idiot are roughly up there with my chances of winning the lottery, being shot in the head by the police and then brought back from the dead by Elvis, I’m happy to live in a not-especially-wealthy part of East London.

On the plus side, at least the paranoicals who’re too scared to live there are keeping my rent down.

[*] not “all”, so posting emotive accounts of some chap being pushed under a train by a loony or set on fire for asking someone to put out a cigarette doesn’t help your case here.

[**] or “whilst being”, possibly more accurately.

  1. Phil E said:

    nearly all of the serious violent crime that happens in London happens to people who choose to move in criminal circles

    The only thing I’d quibble over is ‘choose to’ – you don’t choose your relatives, and lots of people don’t choose their neighbours.

  2. The Kusabi said:

    Oh dear me, looks like I will have to point out what a despicable lying toerag you are here, John.

    Because lately at your own blog you’ve said this –

    ‘You’re lying again. The only comments I’ve ever deleted have been spam (for the avoidance of doubt, I mean spam of the “enlarge anatomical parts and buy pirated software now” variety, not the “idiotic trollish lying oaf who says something vaguely relevant to the topic/blog” variety).

    I’m vaguely tempted to start imposing a banning regime /exclusively/ for people who repeatedly use my comments section to tell lies about me; if I do impose such a regime, then I’ll make that explicitly clear on the blog and on the comments form.’

    And conveniently enough you’ve blocked me from retorting, with this:-

    ‘You’re lying again, John, since I made several comments on this thread –
    – non spamming comments, and anyone who checks that thread is going to find what? A ‘conversation’ that makes no sense, since you took out all the comments you were responding to.’

    I suppose you must know how embarrassing it would be for you to be exposed for the petty, two-faced liar you are, too bad for you.