Do you feel it is dangerous where you live? – A Crime stats analysis

Posted: December 3, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Crime Analysis
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

chicago-police-tape-violent-crime-murder.jpg

I sit here writing this article in Surrey, BC. Considered by locals of metro Vancouver to be one of the more crime-ridden dangerous cities. The question I ask is how true is it actually? Recently in Richmond, BC in a local Tim Horton’s I heard what I can only presume to be an undercover officer, talking to two uniformed RCMP. While I only got the gist of the conversation, I think they were discussing the potential/Current transition in Surrey, From RCMP to a new Local Municipal Police force. The plain-clothed individual was discussing how dangerous it was in the Guildford area and how bad an idea it was to change to a local police force (A sentiment I do not agree with at all). The funny thing is I do not think its that dangerous as I can without much worry walk down the street late at night. I am not at all worried about being mugged or killed. The most likely cause I can think of me being seriously injured is a driver veering off into a curb that I happen to be on. Granted there are areas of Surrey with a higher crime rate. Or areas where there are mentally ill, homeless or drug-addicted individuals. Yet one of the major public transit areas, King George station happens to be in an area where many of these individuals spend their time. Yet day to day 10s of thousands of commuters travels without incident. Yes occasionally someone gets belligerent but I can’t recall the last time there was a homicide that wasn’t pre-meditated or targeted. No, it isn’t the neighborhood of the 50s with clean streets and white picket fences yet comparatively to a global standard it is still very safe.

It can be difficult to quantitively measure danger from one city to another, or from one country to another due to differences in data collection, the accuracy of data and what constitutes a specific crime, but it is clear some are far more dangerous than others. Lets for example sake compare the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world by homicide to the top 10 most dangerous cities in Canada by Homicide. As well as the U.S. and various Global Data from country to country.

Homicide was chosen as it is the most extreme example of Violence as usually recorded by Crime Statistics. Additionally, it would take considerably more research to compile the data for all areas of crime, and unlike Canada, it is not neatly organized for me to look at so, for now, Homicides it is. This is of course not to belittle other crimes, such as rape or theft or property damage.

Let’s look at and unpack the data surrounding homicide. Lets also for the sake of argument, that as the most extreme form of violent crime it is a relative measure of the overall crime or rather danger to life from one place to another. A more in-depth look at data might show differently but for the time being this comparison seems like a reasonable assumption.

Global top 10 most dangerous cities by Homicide (2018)

Rank City, Country Homicides per 100,000 Actual Homicides Population
1 Tijuana, Mexico 138 2640 1,909,424
2 Acapulco, Mexico 111 948 857,883
3 Caracas, Venezuela 100 2980 2,980,492
4 Ciudad Victoria, Mexico 86 314 365,089
5 Ciudad Juarez, Mexico 86 1251 1,462,133
6 Irapuato, Mexico 81 473 580,808
7 Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela 78 645 823, 722
8 Natal, Brazil 75 1,185 1,587,055
9 Fortaleza, Brazil 69 2724 3,939,460
10 Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela 69 264 382,095
     Total: 13,424 5,908,610

*date from 2018 numbers for publication in 2019 Source: https://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/travel/news/2019/07/24/most-dangerous-cities-world-tijuana-caracas-cape-town/1813211001/

Canadian Rates

As this is a comparison, and I am in Canada, let’s use some Canadian data.

Top 10 most dangerous cities in Canada by Homicide (2018)

Rank City, Province Homicides per 100,000 Actual Homicides Population
1 Williams Lake, BC 28.03 3 10,704
2 Thompson, MB 20.64 3 14,535
3 Prince Rupert, BC 16.25 2 12,308
4 Wetaskiwin, AB 13.13 2 15,229
5 Penticton, BC 11.13 4 39,950
6 Oak Bay, BC 10.19 2 19,627
7 Marinville, AB 9.64 1 10,369
8 Langley, BC 7.12 2 28,076
9 West Nipissing, ON 6.83 1 14,633
10 Cold Lake, AB 6.73 1 14,848
     Total: 21 180,279

*date from 2018 numbers for publication in 2019

There is clearly a stark contrast between your likelihood to be murdered outside of Canada, Particularly in many people’s favourite tourist destination Mexico than in Canada. In fact, statistically, you are more likely to be murdered in small-town Canada, and Ironically most likely in Smalltown BC, than in the big cities.

Top 10 most dangerous cities in Canada by Homicide (Large Cities, 500,000 + Population 2018)

Rank Rank by Population City, Province Homicides per 100,000 Actual Homicides Population
23 6 Edmonton, AB 4.18 41 981,280
32 7 Winnipeg, MB 3.2 24 749,534
38 8 Vancouver, BC 2.81 19 676,904
42 10 Surrey, BC 2.31 12 518,467
44 4 Calgary, AB 2.17 29 1,336,274
45 1 Toronto, ON 2.15 63 2,929,886
59 9 Quebec City and area, QB 1.56 9 578,712
67 5 Ottawa, ON 1.41 14 994,837
74 2 Montreal and area, QB 1.23 25 2,033,189
79 3 Mississauga and Brampton 1.05 15 1,432,200
       TOTAL: 251 12,231,283

For reference, the Total Canadian Homicides in 2018, In Canada, was 651

US Rates

How does this far compare to our southern neighbors, the 3rd most populous country in the world has extremely comprehensive data collection which would take quite some time to look through but in general the US with a population of 327.2 Million in 2018 , had around 15,498 Homicides, with a rate per 100,000 of 5.0.

It should be noted that the per 100,000 homicide rate has been in decline for several years in the US.

Top 10 most dangerous cities by Homicide in the US. (2017)

Rank City, Province Homicides per 100,000 Actual Homicides Population
1 St. Louis, Missouri 66.07 2082.29 310,284
2 Baltimore, Maryland 55.77 2029.01 613,217
3 Detroit, Michigan 39.80 2056.67 670,792
4 New Orleans, Louisiana 39.50 1121.41 397,447
5 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 38.26 1026.81 227,403
6 Kansas City, Missouri 30.93 1724.31 484,948
7 Cleveland, Ohio 27.77 1556.76 385,391
8 Memphis, Tennessee 27.73 2003.32 652,765
9 Newark, NJ 27.14 896.45 283673
10 Chicago, IL 24.13 1098.86 2,706,171
      15595.89 6,732,091

*date is from 2017 FBI data as compiled by Wikipedia

The total 2017 number of homicides in the US is 17,284. This actually places the US 7th in the world by Homicide numbers globally. This is the data often cited as the issue with the US and violence, more particularly gun crime but of course this does not paint the whole picture. As you can see the total Homicide number is 17,284 but the top 10 cities in 2017 had a total Homicide number of 15,595.89 which accounts for 90% of the total homicides. This means that if the total country has a rate of 5.3 homicides per 1000, these 10 cities account for most of it. This means the entire rest of the country without these cities would have a rate much closer to other western countries. This suggests that it is less of a country problem and more to do with crime and other cultural issues specific to these cities.

Global Rates

Ok so we have done Canada, and the US, let’s take a look at the world by Country. It should be noted that global stats are definitely not 100% accurate as some countries have very poor data collection as well as what is determined a crime or homicide can vary but it can be assumed that generally anyone who was killed without wanting it would be if recorded, a homicide. Additionally, the data is not to date, as it seems the data is based on the last known accurate report. It is likely some countries are more, and some less but this gives an approximate idea.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries in the World by Homicide per 100,000

Rank Country Homicides per 100,000 Data Year Actual Homicides Population

(Data Year)

1 El Salvador 61.80 2017 3,942 6.378 Mil.
2 Jamaica 57 2017 1,647 2.89 Mil
3 Venezuela 56.33 2016 17,778 31.57 Mil.
4 US Virgin Islands 49.26 2012 52 108,191
5 Honduras 41.70 2017 3,864 9.265 Mil.
6 Lesotho 41.25 2015 897 2.175 Mil.
7 Belize 37.90 2017 142 274,681
8 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 36.46 2016 40 109, 643
9 South Africa 35.90 2017 20,336 56.72 Mil.
10 Saint Kitts and Nevis 34.23 2012 18 52,591
    45.18 (Average)   48,716(Sum) 109,543,106 (Approx. Sum)

 

For those who are wondering, Canada is 151st out of 230 countries with a per 100,000 rate of 1.80.

Top 10 most dangerous countries in the World by Actual Homicide numbers

Rank Country Homicides per 100,000 Data Year Actual Homicides Population

(Data Year)

1 Brazil 30.5 2017 63,895 209.3 Mil.
2 India 3.22 2016 42,678 1.324 Bil.
3 Mexico 24.80 2017 32,079 129.2 Mil.
4 South Africa 35.90 2017 20,336 56.72 Mil.
5 Nigeria 9.85 2015 17,843 181.2 Mil.
6 Venezuela 56.33 2016 17,778 31.57 Mil.
7 United States 5.30 2017 17,284 325.7 Mil
8 Russia 9.20 2017 13,293 144.5 Mil.
9 Columbia 24.90 2017 12,237 49.07 Mil
10 The Democratic Republic of the Congo 13.55 2015 10,322 76.2 Mil.
    21.36   247,745 (Sum) 2,527,460,000 (Aprox Sum)

Again if you are wondering Canada, is 66th out of 231 countries with a total homicide number of 660.

This means that the top 10 most dangerous countries by per 100,000 numbers in the world account for approximately 1.4% of the world population based on the 2017 number of 7.5 billion. Yet you are statistically more likely to be murdered in those 10 countries even though some of them have low population counts, with an average rate per 100,000 of 45.18 and a total number of 48,716 Murders.

Compared that to the top 10 most dangerous countries by actually homicide numbers accounts for approximately 33.6% of the world’s population with an average rater per 100,000 of 21.36 and a total number of murders of 247,745. The average is heavily skewed by 4 of the 10 countries as some of them like India only have a rate of 3.22 per 100,000.

Remember, especially for the global numbers these are approximate as the data years are not exactly the same and these are only recorded homicides and there may be many more thousands that go unrecorded in many of these countries.

So what does this all mean?

If you know anything about statistics, or if you even picked it up in the numbers. Depending on what numbers you use can dictate how you paint the picture if a place is more dangerous or safer. This is called manipulation. In this article, I am simply presenting what I found, how you choose to interpret it is up to you.

A question you could ask is why do some countries with a low general population of high homicide rates while other countries with large populations have low homicide rates. It could simply be that the statistical data is not entirely accurate, or a more probable cause is that there are specific things that are often regional that cause the populous to be more inclined to murder each other.

Some of these factors could be:

  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Poor education
  • Gang Violence
  • War

Of course, there could be many other factors but these are generally some of the big ones. Take Mexico for example. Mexico is currently experiencing dramatically higher homicide rates to the constant violent confrontations between Cartels, Military and independent groups like the Mormons. This spike in violence is heavily related to the drug trade, corruption and a lust for power.

A few years Ago starting in 2009, Metro Vancouver saw a higher than normal homicide rate due to an ongoing Gang War between rival Gangs

This would have given the perception that Vancouver was more violent but statistically if you were not involved in these wars you were relatively safe, though several civilians were killed in several incidents which cause a severe crackdown on the violence. Since then things have only ever been safer.

In America, as mentioned there are 10 cities responsible for most of the homicide and without said cities, their per 100,000 would actually be fairly low. This topic could be looked into quite in-depth but for now let’s just say it is most likely due to low socio-economic status of certain regions in the cities, lower education rates and of course gang Violence. It is likely that if these issues were addressed their homicide rates would dramatically decrease.

Despite Wars or other spiking factors, I would seem that over the last 10-20-30 years there seem to be several cities in any country and several countries which consistently are at or hover near the top 10. This means the underlying issues fueling the homicide rates are clearly not being dealt with. Here is a lose break down over the last few years by country of per 100,000 homicide rates to paint the picture.

IS IT MORE DANGEROUS?

Here’s the thing, I live in the Metro Vancouver area of Canada, which both statistically and anecdotally is safer than many places in Canada. And Canada is considerably safer than many of the other countries listed. Yet every so often I get students coming in saying this city is very violent and not safe. Much like the officers I overheard earlier discussing how dangerous that area of the city is.

Sure relatively to other areas the petty crim is probably, measurably higher but does that make it more dangerous? I think not.

Our perceptions often deceive us. In the western world we are being fed a narrative that things are more dangerous than ever, but clearly just on numbers alone compared to other countries or places it simply is not true.

While statistically, Williams Lake is more dangerous by Homicide but its population is just over 10,000 people. In Winnipeg, at the same time they had 13 times more homicide but with a population is also about 90 times larger. The Williams Lake homicides, if a regular annual occurrence, could suggest an issue with the community it’s self, while the rates in Winnipeg may just indicate it is a city with a specific crime problem that is hard to manage. Both these questions could do with some in-depth analysis, but ask your self as a visitor would you feel safer in a small town compared to a large city? I personally might assume that it is safer in small towns but the statistics would say otherwise. Then I would remember it’s not so black and white and probably not worry too much about it either way as I am not in a Gang nor am I intentionally looking for trouble both of which would dramatically decrease my likelihood of being murdered.

One thing I think I could say for certain is that there is a good chance that someone living in El Salvador, or parts of Mexico would much rather be living in Canada, or, The US because for them it is 100% without a doubt safer. (This does not mean there should be open borders FYI, this is a silly ideologically driven idea that in practical application is beyond foolish. But a topic for another time perhaps)

Like everything though, it is all relative.

A student coming to me who perhaps was assaulted, or has a history of being assaulted will perceive things to be more dangerous not less. It is their personal experience changing their perception, which most likely includes mental damage from their traumas. This could be PTSD or other things.

Regardless of your personal opinions or perceptions, Fact; globally on average, Despite the increase in population, the general Crime Stats are heavily on the decline (A good thing). This is why population increase does not mean more violence in the modern world so clearly, those other factors mentioned may be the cause.

If you are not familiar with the Author Steven Pinker, you should start. He has looked into this topic heavily and the data shows that no, things are not getting more dangerous but quite the opposite. In his book Enlightenment Now, this topic is heavily discussed, and I highly recommend it.

So how dangerous is your city, country, or hemisphere? While yes, if you are in one of the top 10 most dangerous places (measure it however you like) then things might be quite dangerous and hard. But if you happen to grow up in Vancouver, or many other western countries. Guess what, you are doing just fine and trauma aside, and outside specific countries, it is likely that for you my friend, the world is actually safer than ever.

And remember, Facts do not care about your feelings.

Advertisements

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.