Belgium sees crime drop over past 150 years

The number of murders in Belgium is much lower now than it was 150 years ago, VRT NWS reports. A study of historical crime trends by Belgium's National Institute for Criminology and Criminalistics (NICC) reports a general crime drop over the same period.

The annual number of violent deaths - murder ​ and manslaughter - in Belgium has fallen significantly over the past 150 years, according to the NICC. In the 1870s, around 15 people per million inhabitants died a violent death. At the beginning of 2010, Belgium recorded 10 violent deaths per 1 million inhabitants. 

There has also been a marked decline in long-term property crime. From the 1960s to the 1990s, the number of thefts, vandalism, burglaries and car thefts increased, but there has been a remarkable decline since the beginning of this century.

Not every decline can be put into hard figures. Apart from the statistics for crimes that result in death, which have been well recorded since 1870, there is not enough statistical data on crime in Belgium. Moreover, the study does not include crime data for the last five years.

Nevertheless, there is enough data to speak of a crime drop, a general decline in crime of the kind first observed in the US. The NICC research shows that a broadly similar conclusion can be drawn internationally.

Researchers are unable to satisfactorily explain the international downward trend, says VRT NWS. They have looked at several possible explanations, including the effect of repressive policies in the US. Since the study shows the same downward trend in crime in other countries with different approaches, they conclude that using more police or harsher punishments cannot explain the phenomenon.



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