The crime trends globally present a grim picture for most societies. The level of insecurity has doubled in several third world countries while the law enforcement agencies are stretched to the limit. The United States stands out as an exception to this norm by recording the lowest number of criminal offences in the last decade. Historically, the last two decades found Washington DC and other cities in the country very unsafe and marred with rapes, murders and mugging. However, the United States currently records the lowest number of these crimes. For instance, in 2009, there were 130 murders compared to twenty years ago when the murder rate stood at 482. The factors responsible for the drastic drop in criminal activity form the discussion in the next section.
Factors Contributing To Drop in Criminal Activity
It would be imprudent to state that a definite number of factors have contributed towards lower crime rates globally. A more suitable explanation would be that a combination of several separate factors collectively contributed towards safer cities and countries. The rapidly expanding prison population is a significant factor that has greatly reduced the number of wrongdoers from the society. The number of incarcerated individuals has risen annually in almost all countries in the world and this has deterred further criminal activity while containing the offenders in secure facilities. Closely related to this point is the increased police presence in most cities and urban areas where criminal activity is highest. Most countries have increased the number of police on the streets. Similarly, the police are also trained in efficient tactics and armed with sophisticated equipment: two factors that ensure most offenders are arrested even before they perpetrate crimes. Social changes also contribute toward a more civilized society. As young people continue living with their parents and complete their studies, they end up in a comfortable lifestyle that discourages criminal activity. Other minor factors include reduced opportunities to commit criminal activity and increased information on crime patterns and trends.
The total recorded crime has been steadily decreasing for the last ten years with England, Greece and Malta illustrating approximately 25% drop. The largest drops were robbery, sexual offences and physical assault. The context of criminal trends has also shifted from nationwide to international platforms mainly because of integration efforts that have since created the European Union and other similar federations. These new political entities have the weakness of porous borders that have attracted cross-border criminal activity. Considering that law enforcers are normally restricted to their national borders, it becomes cumbersome to enforce security across different borders. The difference in crime trends across several jurisdictions is a direct result of several factors such as police performance, size of jurisdiction and population density influences the amount of crimes that take place. Social factors are a major influence and they help explain the high prevalence of lawbreakers in poverty centers such as slums.
Most of the criminal activities in urban and semi-urban areas are directly related to the economic conditions in the country. Harsh economic conditions such as inflation or mass unemployment lead to an uneven number of individuals being displaced to the low class category. Consequently, most of them resort to crime as a means of survival. Handling these types of crime has resulted in the development of strong partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the community through community-driven policing initiatives. These types of efforts have been particularly effective in discouraging crime within closed neighborhoods. Lastly, through the adoption of smart policing, crime trends have been sharply clamped down. Elements of smart policing include adopting databased tactics, scientific approaches and partnerships with different security stakeholders.
Emerging Trends in Crime
The advent of mobile and online technology has also resulted in increased cases of cyber crime. Instead of relying on brute force, criminals are turning to digital methods of committing crime. The major emerging criminal trends concerned with information technology include financial crimes, corporate espionage and digital fraud. Financial crimes and digital fraud are especially common and widespread mainly because they require a basic PC and Internet access to occur. Furthermore, they are quite difficult to track or control due to the high level of anonymity. Administratively, most of these offences have not been document officially and in dependently, they cannot be considered illegal or criminal activities. The issue of jurisdiction also arises when such cyber crimes are committed by foreigners. Identity theft using digital means is another emerging trend that has drastic effects on the economy and the society. This type of crime has evolved to include criminals secretly gathering personal data from unsuspecting Internet users through different channels. This wrongfully acquired data is then used to perpetrate criminal acts such as money laundering and purchasing assets under false names. For instance, video surveillance (CCTV) has greatly assisted the police in investigation through identification of perpetrators.
Despite isolate cases of criminal activities, the long standing decreasing rates of criminal activity in the West is a significant event. The changes in crime trends have been effective on the type of crimes committed, the location of the crimes, the rates and the scope. For this positive crime trend to continue, it is imperative that the government and other stakeholders implement more scientific and knowledge-based approaches as well as efforts to tackle the causes of these crimes.