UK has become more peaceful, finds study

Violent crime and homicide rates have fallen significantly over the past ten years, making the UK a more peaceful place to live

A rapid decline in murder and violent crime means the UK has become a more peaceful country in the past decade, a new study has found.

Violent crime fell from 1,255 per 100,000 people in 2003 to 933 in 2012, according to the research by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), an international non-profit organisation. The decline was more marked than the average decrease across Western Europe over the same period, despite police numbers falling in the UK.

Researchers also found the rate of homicides per 100,000 people in the UK fell from 1.99 to one since 2003 – the lowest level since 1978.

The findings come from the IEP’s inaugural UK Peace Index, which identified Broadland in Norfolk as the most peaceful local council area. Three Rivers in Hertfordshire, South Cambridgeshire, East Dorset and Maldon in Essex completed the top five most peaceful areas. Cardiff and Swansea were named the most peaceful major urban areas followed by Sheffield and Nottingham.

Despite London boroughs accounting for the five least peaceful areas, the capital has also become more peaceful and has a lower homicide rate than cities such as New York and Amsterdam.

The report said less than 4% of people will be victims of violent crime, despite 17% believing they will be. It said reasons for the fall in violence included an ageing population, decreasing alcohol consumption, the introduction of a minimum wage and police use of technology.

However, the apparent drop in violent crime could be partly due to police using ‘community resolutions’ – such as an apology or compensation payment to the victim – instead of prosecutions and cautions.

Figures obtained by the Labour Party show more than 10,000 incidents of ‘serious violence’ were dealt with informally through such methods last year – about 12 times as many as five years ago.

IEP chairman Steve Killelea said tackling violence requires “programmes that tackle poverty and related issues, such as access to education and economic opportunity.”