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Most of this data is from the Seventh United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (1998-2000) as of 3rd December 2003. The countries are ranked in order of crime rate per 100,000 persons, averaged over the six years sampled. Consideration is also given to the general trend shown. i.e. where two countries are roughly equal, the stats going up will be ranked higher than those going down.
Travel safety advisories from the US State Department, plus the British Foreign Commonwealth Office were used to "sanity check" the data as far as possible for some non-Western countries (some data was rejected on these grounds). Backpackers and other budget tourists are an excellent litmus test of how safe a country really is! Note however that in some countries crime is concentrated in a few localities easily avoided by tourists, and so even the travel advisories are not a 100% reliable guide.
A few gaps have been filled from the website of the Singapore Police Force and provided links to breakdowns across states within those nations where appropriate, e.g. Australia and the USA.
To get to these websites, and to State by State breakdowns, just click on the country names in the tables. There are links to some countries that did provide data to the UN Survey that merit special interest, e.g. Switzerland, Australia, France, Japan, and of course New Zealand.
Note also that the link for France is to a report in French, however what is being described in the tables can be worked out easily enough with the help of an online dictionary, e.g. Cambriolage is burglary, vols is theft, viols is rape, autres atteintes volontaires contre les personnes is robbery and coups et blessures volontaires is serious assault resulting in injury.
The data for Japan does not seperate out burglary, car theft and all other theft, this all comes under larceny, so keep in mind that the larceny figures for Japan are actually for ALL theft.
Due to variations in the definitions of some crimes, these statistics will only be indicative, and only the larger differences between countries/states concerned will be significant. For instance, a difference of ten percent will not be meaningful, whereas a difference by a factor of ten will be (i.e. where one country has a crime rate ten times that of another). The grand total recorded crime figures in some cases do not include all crime for some countries, so these should be compared with caution. NZ is one of these.
The USA is a special case, in that it is in reality a collection of states, all with differing legal systems and approaches to crime, and differing economic and social factors. Therefore the overall USA figures do not really tell us a great deal about the USA as such, you need to go down to the State level figures to see the effects of such things as gun laws, Three Strikes, etc, both of which are applied patchily and at very different levels across the USA.
Data from Third World and wartorn nations has been excluded as it is likely to be too unreliable for the purposes of comparisons. Another useful set of statistics is this international survey on crime victims done in 1996. This graph of International Homicide rates for 1992/93 from World Health Organisation data also gives a useful indication at a glance, although the data is slightly dated now.
There is also lots of useful data here in this 1999 British Home Office International comparison of criminal justice statistics. Even more comprehensive data can be found in their 1998 version of this comparison. Both these are pdf documents which require Adobe Acrobat. This site gives comprehensive links to international and some National sites.
Since we did this it has been to some extent superseded by the superb Nationmaster site which does carry very comprehensive data internationally over a wide range of subjects. However keep in mind that some of the data is from Third World nations and needs to be treated with caution as mentioned above.
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