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Criminology of Violent Crime

NCJ Number
Schriftenreihe der Polizei-Fuehrsungsakademie Issue: 2 Dated: (1980) Pages: 129-147
G Kaiser
Date Published
19 pages
The extents and causes of increases in violent crime internationally, but especially in West Germany, are explored.
The rapid increases in violent crime are misleading because of variations in the definition of 'violent crime' and because of distortions in police statistics. But even if crimes such as burglary are excluded from the violent crime category, a rise in violent crime since the 1950's is evident. Greater readiness to define crimes as violent and to report them has also been observed. Still, the total increase of premeditated murders, injuries, thefts, and rapes from 1960 to 1978 has remained below the overall rise in crime (juvenile crimes excepted) and still makes up a relatively small proportion of the total. Similar trends are evident in England, France, Italy, and Sweden, with some variations for separate offense categories. Increases in violent crime have been relatively small in Switzerland. Violent crime rates, especially for robbery, have risen more rapidly in the United States than in Europe. The only industrial state in which violent crime has not grown appreciably since the Second World War is Japan. The increases started in the fifties in English-speaking countries and in the sixties in continental Europe. At the same time, rates for violent crime and property offenses have also increased rapidly in developing countries, suggesting that sociocultural factors such as lack of solidarity play at least as important a role as industrialization in the evolution of violence. The number of robberies, most of them petty, has increased considerably on an international level since the sixties, especially those committed by juveniles. In contrast to previous patterns, thefts seem to have little to do with offenders' prosperity, signalling a structural change in this type of crime. Robbers are typically young, ruthless males with previous convictions. The rise in juvenile crime is attributed to the uncertainties and relaxed social controls characteristic of a period of transition from old norms to new. In West Germany, foreigners are responsible for a percentage of rapes, murders, bodily injuries, and robberies (15 to 29 percent). Tables and a bibliography are supplied. --in German.