Crime is currently decreasing within the European Union (EU), and some official statistics prove it. In spite of everything, there is a real diversity of police and judicial systems within this continent, which does not facilitate the task of arresting an individual who has just committed a crime (indeed, anyone can easily pass several borders aboard his car, during the same night if he wants to!). There is some disruption to the recordable data, such as the fact that not all crimes are recorded by the police. The registration practices of this police and criminal justice systems effectiveness also differ from one country to another.
First of all, let’s now define the notion of criminality, in order to see later what data we have to calculate it. These are all acts considered illegal, from a criminal point of view (these are crimes) or simply criminal offenses. It represents a real transgression of the legal norms set up within a social system. These standards may be criminal in the case that interests us, and they contribute to the order maintenance in a precise society. It is then that we can also distinguish between serious criminality, in other words, crime, and petty criminality, called more commonly delinquency.
It should also be clear that the data we can see on Eurostat’s website are limited to criminal matters and that minor offenses (such as fines) are not taken into account. Thus, in recent years, crimes and misdemeanours have decreased by 12% compared to the early 2000s. This applies to homicides, violent offenses and crimes against property. The number of motor vehicles theft also declined. Nevertheless, the number of burglaries in residential areas increased by more than 14% between the early 2000s and the following decade. A dozen EU member states have seen an increase in the number of crimes and offenses, while countries such as the United Kingdom, Slovakia and Estonia have seen these figures decrease. And the same goes for violent crimes.
The information we have about violent crimes and offenses in Europe includes violence against people, often physical assaults, robbery with violence (sometimes with threats), and sexual offenses (rape, aggressions). Once again, the standard definition of this type of crime varies from a country to another country. For example, the data of crimes and misdemeanours that have taken place in France do not count the crimes and offenses recorded by the gendarmerie … This trend is increasing strongly in countries like Denmark, Hungary or even Luxembourg. On the contrary, countries such as Croatia, Slovakia and Scotland see a decrease in violent events taking place on their territory.
Homicide, i.e. intentionally killing someone, is reported to the police consistently over the last 15 years. This category includes manslaughter, murder. Latvia also includes homicides’ attempts in its statistics. In other European countries, the police list deaths, that can not be attributed immediately to other causes, in the homicide category. The percentage of the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants is generally declining, except in countries like Austria, or Greece.
Violent robbery is another type of brutal crime, and this is a robbery that takes place by force or through the threat of violence. Included in this category are violent thefts and assaults such as snatching. Their numbers sometimes do not include the crimes recorded by the gendarmerie, as in France. An increase is felt in some countries, such as Greece, Denmark, while the numbers are falling in Scotland, for example.
Offenses against property include theft or destruction of property. In this specific case, the statistics refer to burglaries taking place in a residence place and the theft of motor vehicles (cars, motorbikes, trucks, buses). Entry into a dwelling by force to steal increased by 14% in the European Union. The most significant increases took place in Greece (more than 75% increase) Spain (over 70%), Italy (over 40%), Romania and Croatia. Decreases are to be noted in Slovakia or Lithuania.
Thefts of motor vehicles have also declined, thanks to technology. Improvements to anti-theft devices have indeed played an important role in this decline. The decline is around 37% in the EU, except in countries like Greece, where the trend is on the rise.
Since the year 2014, criminal justice and crime statistics are all collected in the official The formal framework for joint data collection from all the countries of the European Union. This survey is commissioned by Eurostat and also by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
This makes it possible to get an idea about:
– Voluntary crimes and homicides recorded by the police.
– The offenses of burglary, theft of vehicles and theft, recorded by the police.
– Offenses of assault, rape, robbery with armed hands.
– The figures concerning the entries and exits in courts, and the persons prosecuted.
– The capacities of the different prisons and the number of prisoners.
– The total number of judicial, penitentiary and police personnel.
Additional figures are also available on drug trafficking.
Be careful, however, to manipulate carefully all these data because the abolition of controls at the borders of the European Union has facilitated the free movement of citizens from all European countries … and this also makes it easier for criminals to operate. In addition, the competences of the justice and law enforcement systems remain limited to the national territory.
Criminal organizations are estimated at 3,600 on European territory, according to Interpol and Europol, and their number is increasing … This is a danger for some citizens who can always use a bodyguard, thanks to a personal protection agency, to feel perfectly safe !