Global homicide rates

You’ll note that if you trust the ‘public health data’ more than the wildly different ‘Criminal Justice’ data from eastern, middle, and western Africa, they all immediately slot in between southern Africa and the Caribbean at the top of the list. And you should – WHO data is the most reliable data on these matters.

From the 2011 UNODC Global Study on Homicide (pdf)

Unequal Distribution of Crime

Three parts to this post:

1) Black Crime in Britain and Canada
2) Muslim Crime in Europe
3) Other Minority Crime in Western Countries


Black Crime in Britain and Canada


The U.S. situation is already well known, so I’ll pass over that – but what about other western nations? Unfortunately, most countries aren’t keeping data on this, but Britain has a fair amount, and Canada has a couple glimpses. Aside from that, no other nations seems to have any data.



“Black people make up 2.7% of the UK population aged 10 to 17, but represent 8.5% of those in that age group arrested in England and Wales” (source)

“In London, the overrepresentation of young black men in gun crime appears to be undisputed. Figures from Operation Trident, a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) operation set up to combat shootings among black Londoners, show that, of all MPS firearms homicides and shootings in 2006, 75% of victims and 79% of suspects were black.”
“More than half of suspects charged in London over robbery and knife-point muggings last year were black, official figures revealed today… 55 per cent were black. Just under a third of suspects were white, while 11 per cent were Asian… Three out of five of the 1,613 suspects charged with knife-point muggings were also black, compared with 27 per cent white and 10 per cent Asian… In Lambeth and Lewisham, for example, three-quarters of those taken to court for robbery were black, while in Southwark the proportion was 69 per cent, although in Westminster black suspects accounted for only 37 per cent of the 495 people charged….Separate figures for people charged for “knife-enabled robberies”—in which a victim is either shown a blade or told that the offender is carrying one—show that 967 of the 1,613 alleged offenders last year were black. That represents 60 per cent.”
[According to Britain’s Office for National Statistics, based on 2006 estimates, London is 69.4 percent white, 13.1 percent are South Asian, and 10.7 percent are black.] (source – pdf)

“Sixty Per Cent of Knife Muggers in the Capital Are Young Black Men”

“One of the few police forces to have begun recording the figures of reported gang rape is the Metropolitan Police. In 2008 alone, they received reports of 85 gang rapes. Using the Met’s definition of gang rape – those involving three or more perpetrators – we began to look at the number of convictions. We tracked down 29 cases, from January 2006 to March 2009, in which a total of 92 young people were convicted of involvement in gang rape. … One fact stood out. Of those convicted, 66 were black or mixed race, 13 were white and the remainder were from other countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.” (source)

“Young black men now account for nearly 40% of the population of youth jails in England and Wales, according to a report by the chief inspector of prisons.
The report, published jointly with the youth justice board, shows that the proportion of black and other minority ethnic young men in young offender institutions (YOIs) has risen from 23% in 2006 and 33% in 2009/10 to 39% last year. (source)

“Twelve per cent of London’s men are black. But 54 per cent of the street crimes committed by men in London, along with 46 per cent of the knife crimes and more than half of the gun crimes, are thought by the Metropolitan Police to have been committed by black men.” (source)

Police hold black men responsible for more than two-thirds of shootings and more than half of robberies and street crimes in London, according to figures released by Scotland Yard.
It found that 67 per cent of those caught by police for gun crimes were black.
Among those proceeded against for street crimes, including muggings, assault with intent to rob and snatching property, 54 per cent were black males.
On sex offences, black men made up 32 per cent of all male suspects, with 49 per cent of those apprehended by police being white men.
The statistics also suggest that police hold black women accountable for a disproportionate amount of violent crime. On knife crime, 45 per cent of suspected female perpetrators were black.
Among those women and girls police took action against for gun crime, 58 per cent were black and in robberies that figure was 52 per cent.
Unsolved crimes were not included. Just over 12 per cent of London’s 7.5million population is black, including those of mixed black and white parentage, while 69 per cent is white, according to the Office for National Statistics. (source)



“In Toronto, Canada, unofficial figures suggest that recent Afro-Caribbean immigrants, while making up 2 to 5 percent of the population, are responsible for between 32 and 40 percent of the crime (The Globe and Mail, February 8, 1989). Immigrants from the Pacific Rim, however, are underrepresented in crime.” (from Rushton, 1995)

“the Star’s groundbreaking 2002 series on race, policing and crime in Toronto, which used police arrest and charge data… showed that blacks then were 3.3 times more likely to be charged with violent crimes… A repeat of the 2002 analysis looking at arrest and charge data from 2003 to 2008 shows those results have changed little.” (source)

Toronto (2002): “The data show that accused black people represent nearly 27 per cent of all violent charges; this, although the latest census figures show that only 8.1 per cent of the population list their skin colour as black.” (source)

Toronto Star: In 2009-2010, blacks make up 8.3% of Toronto’s population, but 30% of violent crime charges were laid against blacks.

“At the provincial level in 2009, those who self-identified as being black made up 10 per cent of the prison population in Nova Scotia’s five jails, which is again (more than) what you would expect, based on population, Clairmont said. The 2006 census showed that blacks made up just over two per cent of Nova Scotia’s population — 19,230 blacks in a total population of 913,462.” (source)

Nova Scotia: “They account for 22 per cent of all young offenders and 26 per cent of all repeat offenders, which is five to six times higher than their proportion in the general population. And in 2005, blacks accounted for 24 per cent of the young people sentenced to custody. That was a huge jump from 2000, when blacks made up 14 per cent of all young people sentenced to custody.” (source)


Muslim Crime in Europe


They don’t exactly make much of an effort to collect or report this data, and some countries really have no data at all (in fact collecting ethnicity based data is banned in some) besides estimates of numbers of prisoners who are Muslim.  But the glimpses we get are pretty revealing.

Actually, much of the data can’t be claimed to be only Muslim, but its clear that much of the immigrant crime is Muslim (ie. Moroccan, Somali, etc). But pay attention to where it is simply saying ‘foreign’ or ‘non-western’.

By country:




“The study is the first where the crime statistics have been analyzed according to ethnic origin. Of the 111 charged with rape in Oslo last year, 72 were of non-western ethnic origin, 25 are classified as Norwegian or western and 14 are listed as unknown.Rape charges in the capital are spiraling upwards, 40 percent higher from 1999 to 2000 and up 13 percent so far this year. Nine out of ten cases do not make it to prosecution, most of them because police do not believe the evidence is sufficient to reach a conviction.Police Inspector Gunnar Larsen of Oslo’s Vice, Robbery and Violent crime division says the statistics are surprising – the rising number of rape cases and the link to ethnic background are both clear trends. But Larsen does not want to speculate on the reasons behind the worrying developments.While 65 percent of those charged with rape are classed as coming from a non-western background, this segment makes up only 14.3 percent of Oslo’s population. Norwegian women were the victims in 80 percent of the cases, with 20 percent being women of foreign background.Larsen said that since this was the initial study examining ethnic make-up there were no existing figures to put the numbers into context. “Meanwhile, it is our general experience that this is an increasing tendency. We note this by the number of time we need to use interpreters in the course of an investigation,” Larsen said. (source)

In 2010 48.7% of perpetrators of any kind of rape in Oslo were European, 19.7% were African, 15.1% Middle Eastern, 14.1% Asian and 2% American. (source – pdf)

“Norway’s capital Oslo has seen a sharp increase in cases of outdoor rape, with the number of attacks in 2011 already double the total for the previous year, according to figures compiled by newspaper Aftenposten…. Police in Oslo registered 24 such cases in 2010 compared to 48 so far this year, Aftenposten said… “It can not be denied that many of the culprits have an ethnic background with a critical view of women,” Conservative party justice critic Andre Oktay Dahl told TV2. (source)

“Ethnics account for 70 percent of family violence in Oslo” (source)

“‘Immigrants behind most rapes in Stavanger’ – In all, 18 rape judgments were handed down from 2009 to 2011 in the south-western city, according to a review carried out by state broadcaster NRK. The cases involved 22 men, two of whom were cleared of rape charges. Of the 20 men found guilty of rape, half were of African origin, five had Asian backgrounds, one had Polish roots and three were ethnic Norwegians, said NRK, which did not disclose the ethnicity of one of the men. (source)



“Alarmed at last week’s police statistics, which revealed that in 68% of all rapes committed this year the perpetrator was from an ethnic minority, leading Muslim organisations have now formed an alliance to fight the ever-growing problem of young second and third-generation immigrants involved in rape cases against young Danish girls. ” (source)

Study found that more than half of those charged with ‘assault-rape’ (distinct from contact-rape and partner-rape) were not North-European (source – pdf)



Swedish study (pdf), finds that immigrants commit crime at 2.5x the rate of native Swedes, while those with two foreign parents commit crime at 2x the average, and those with one foreign parent commit crime at 1.5x. When corrected for age/sex/education/income, the relative risk for the foreign born shrinks to 2.1x, while that with two foreign-born parents shrinks to 1.5x.

This is somewhat misleading, though, as the foreign born are a heterogeneous group – for example, those from the Anglo-American countries and East Asia commit crime at essentially the same rate as native Swedes (under average) – whereas the highest rates come from ‘Other’ Africa (5.3x average), North Africa (4.7x), Western Asia (3.8x), and East Africa (3.5x). Central and South American regions also have high rates – 3.25x. Intermediate regions are places like South East Asia (2.1x), and ‘New EU Countries’ (2.3x).

Further, some crimes are disproportionately common among immigrants – for example when it comes to lethal violence or robbery, the rate at which foreign-born commit them is 4.2x the average rate (2.6x for children with one-foreign born parent). As for rape/attempted rape, the rate of being suspected of the crime for the foreign-born in 5x the rate that of Swedes, while for those with least one foreign-born parent it is 1.8x.



Between 2006 & 2009, foreigners were convicted of 34% of the rape, despite being only 3% of the population. Iraqi’s, for example, though making up only 0.1% of the population were responsible for 5% of the rapes in 2011. (source)



“The report, published jointly with the youth justice board, shows that the proportion of black and other minority ethnic young men in young offender institutions (YOIs) has risen from 23% in 2006 and 33% in 2009/10 to 39% last year… The changing demographic profile of the population inside youth jails in England and Wales also shows an increasing proportion of young Muslims, up from 13% last year to 16% this year. Foreign national young men account for a record 6% of the population.” (source)

“Official figures from police forces across England and Wales shows how immigrants make up a large proportion of those arrested for major crimes… In London, of the 547 people charged with rape in the past 12 months, 174 were non-UK citizens… The nations whose individuals were charged the most frequently with rape in the capital were Jamaica, 19 suspects, Nigeria, 11, Poland, ten, and Australia, nine.” (Source)

Jack Straw is not looking quite as lonely as he was last Friday when he made the controversial statement that there was a “specific problem” involving British men of Pakistani descent grooming young white girls for sex because they think they are “easy meat”… An initial burst of outrage, led by fellow Labour MP Keith Vaz, has been followed by more sympathetic statements from Muslim commentators and women’s rights campaigners… Martin Narey… said: “…My staff would say there is an over-representation of people from ethnic minority groups among perpetrators – Afghans, people from Arabic nations, Pakistanis. But it’s not just one nation.”…. Last week the Times published its own survey into the ethnicity of those convicted of on-street grooming. It found that over the past 13 years there had been 17 court prosecutions by northern and Midlands police forces involving such crimes… Of the 56 people found guilty, three were white and 53 were Asian. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards said: “To stop this type of crime you need to start talking about it, but everyone’s been too scared to address the ethnicity factor. (source)

“In Britain, 11 percent of prisoners are Muslim in contrast to about 3 percent of all inhabitants, according to the Justice Ministry.” (source)

“The number of women and girls in the UK suffering violence and intimidation at the hands of their families or communities is increasing rapidly, according to figures revealing the nationwide scale of “honour” abuse for the first time… Statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act about such violence – which can include threats, abduction, acid attacks, beatings, forced marriage, mutilation and murder – show that in the 12 police force areas for which comparable data was available, reports went up by 47% in just a year… But this is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, campaigners say, as so many incidents go unreported because of victims’ fears of recriminations… Jasvinder Sanghera of victim support group Karma Nirvana said the real figure could be four times as high.” (source)



“The Belgian newspaper De Standaard claims that “foreigners” constitute 44 percent of the Belgian prison populations… Moroccan immigrants are among the most notorious hardline criminals in Belgium. ” (source)

“In Belgium, Muslims from Morocco and Turkey make up at least 16 percent of the prison population, compared with 2 percent of the general populace, the research found.” (source)



“Of the 212,000 suspects arrested in 2005 63 percent was native Dutch. (Non-Western immigrants account for 11 percent of the Dutch population.)” (source)

“THE HAGUE, 18/03/09 – Two out of three serious teenage criminals are children of parents born outside the Netherlands. In most cases, no prison sentence is imposed, it emerges from a study sent to parliament by Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin… In the research, 447 case files of youngsters aged from 12 to 17 were studied. All the files involved cases in which the perpetrator was convicted of a crime for which the maximum jail sentence is 8 years or more. These were murder, manslaughter, robbery with violence, extortion, arson, public acts of violence and sexual crimes… Only just over one-third (37 percent) of the convicted youngsters are white Dutch. Two-thirds are of immigrant origin, meaning that they themselves or their mothers were born abroad… The most prevalent group of youthful immigrants (among the perpetrators) are young Moroccans (14 percent),” according to the report. For another 14 percent, the parents’ country of birth could not be determined. A further 8 percent of the young criminals came from Turkey, 7 percent from Surinam and another 7 percent from the Netherlands Antilles, 9 percent from the category ‘other non-Westerners’ and 4 percent, ‘other Westerners.’ (source)

“Of the Moroccan-Dutch boys in Rotterdam aged 18 to 24, almost 55% have gotten in trouble with the police on suspicion of offenses. For Antilleans and Surinamese that’s 40%, for Turkish-Dutch men 36% and for ethnic Dutch Rotterdam residents 18.4%.” (source)

“Research by the Open Society Institute, an advocacy organization, shows that in the Netherlands 20 percent of adult prisoners and 26 percent of all juvenile offenders are Muslim; the country is about 5.5 percent Muslim” (source)



“This prison is majority Muslim — as is virtually every house of incarceration in France. About 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country’s prison system are Muslim, according to Muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, though Muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country’s population…. Many of the Muslim inmates in this prison just west of Lille are the children and grandchildren of immigrants who were brought to the northern region decades ago to work in its coal mines.” (source)

“As the number of French prisoners is expected to break a new record this month, Muslims account for 70 percent of inmates despite making only 5-10 percent of the population, Press TV reports.” (source)

“Iranian-French researcher Farhad Khosrokhavar said in his recently published book Islam in Prisons that Muslims make up some 70 percent of a total of 60,775 prisoners in France… As ethnicity-based censuses are banned in France, he said complexion, names and religious traditions like prohibition of pork indicate that Muslims constitute an overwhelming majority in prisons.” (source)

“In ten years, the number of halal meals served in prison has increased dramatically, so that today they represent 70% of food served in our prisons.” (source)



I found the following table here for the region of Catalonia (original source archived here). The table-maker at the first link notes that ‘African’ is mostly means Magreb, as you can see if you visit the second link (he also notes that black africans seem to have a lower rate than non-Spanish EU countries and Americans).

Spain Europe EU Europe Non-Eu Africa* America* Asia*
Nationality if Criminal 54.5% 6.5% 2.6% 20.1% 15.3% 1.1%
Criminal if Nationality 1.1 2.6 5.9 7.9 5.1 1


Other Minority Crime in Western Countries

But what about other poorer minorities, especially Indigenous, in Western countries?

– Canada: Natives make up 2% of the population but are 18% of those incarcerated
– New Zealand: Maoris make up 15% of pop. but are 49.5% of prisoners
– Australia: Aborignes are 2.3% of pop, but 27% of prisoners
– Apparently in the US, the black crime rate is 4 times higher than Amerindians
– In Japan, the Burakumin, once the ‘untouchables’ of Japan, though ethnically Japanese, were arrested at 3x the rate of other Japanese. Burakumin and Koreans, also marginalized in Japanese society, make up a disproportionate number of the yakuza (apparently making up about 75% of the largest underworld crime group, the Yamaguchi Gumi) (source).

Comments on Pinker’s History of Violence

In Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” he argues that we have experienced a radical decrease in violence from pre-state societies, to state level societies, and then again in the transition to modern societies. The importance of the transition to state level society, according to Pinker, was that the state ended the perpetual feuding and and small scale warfare that exists in the state of anarchy.

I’m most interested in the claims about levels of violence in pre-state societies. Pinker’s evidence comes basically from two source: archaological sites, where skeletons have been analyzed for signs of violence, and ethnographic data from recent times, where anthropologists have calculated death rates due to homicide. The below graph, taken from the book, summarizes the data from Pinker’s sources:

Pinker arrives at an average of 15% deaths due to homicide in Hunter-gatherer societes, 24.5% in Hunter-horticulturalists & other tribal groups, and for state societies the numbers range from less than 1% to 5%.

Pinker takes the Hobbesian view that life in the state of nature was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” He doesn’t say much about how far back this tendency goes, but given that he doesn’t never qualifies his statements, and his general perspective on the role of states in pacifying violence, it seems he views these numbers as representing long term patterns of human behaviour. Futher, in an interview, when presented with the view that evidence for extensive violence mostly arises in the last 10,000 years, Pinker seems to think this is largely a matter of the deficient skeletal record, which supports the view that he takes the high homicide figures to be representative of the distant past as well.

The point I’m trying to get to is that, in reading Pinker’s book one gets a definite sense that extreme levels of violence (by today’s standards) have been with us throughout human history, and is only diminishing in turns by increasing state intervention and the discovery of more civilized norms.

Never referenced are, for example, anthropologists like Brian Ferguson or Douglas Fry, who take a very different view of the evolution of violence and war. Actually, there is overlap between the two views, but the fact that Pinker never even mentions them or their evidence in a history on the decline of violence is pretty remarkable. At least one would think that, since Ferguson and Fry (and others) see strong evidence for a drastic increase in violence beginning around 10,000 years ago, this would be worth a note in a history on the rates of inter-personal violence.

Pinker suggests that there simply isn’t enough skeletal evidence from before 10,000 years ago – but I find this a bit weak. Brian Ferguson in Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, and the Origins and Intensification of War (2006), goes over the worldwide evidence of violence, both before 10,000 years ago, as well as tracing the emerging evidence of war and violence in different regions.

While there is certainly evidence of violence, it is not very extensive before 10,000 years ago. For example Brennan (1991) studies all skeletons available from the 100,000 – 10,000 BP from southwestern France – fragments of 203 individuals – and only 5 (2.5%) showed any signs of fractures, but even these were compatible with accidental injury. In the Middle East, 370 skeletons from the Natufian (10,800 – 8,500 BC) were analyzed, and only 2 showed signs of any kind of trauma. There are outliers of course – Nile Site 117 from around 12,000 BC, has 24 out of 59 skeletons are associated with projectiles. As Ferguson notes: “This is a true outlier without continuation…” But, naturally, it’s been included as one of the sites used as archaeological evidence for high rates of violence in Hunter-gatherer societies in Pinker’s book.

A general problem with the kinds of data sources used in Pinker’s book is noted by Ferguson  – that is, people often measure the populations, whether archaeological or ethnographic, because something about the violence catches their eye. Then someone else compiles a list of groups / sites with definite numbers. This is not exactly a random sample.

Ferguson also makes a strong argument for the very misleading nature of ethnographic data, in that it is collected in a world already highly distorted by the impact of Europeans or other more complex societies. Though there is pretty good evidence for a decided lack of peacefulness in the pre-colonial period, we still can’t take numbers from the 20th century and extrapolate them backwards indefinitely, or even numbers from the pre-contact period.

It is also worthwhile to distinguish Simple Hunter-gatherers from Complex Hunter-gatherers if we want to extrapolate very far back in time to when all populations would have been fairly simple. For example, today the less violent hunter-gatherer societies also tend to be the more simple ones. Looking back up towards the graph at the beginning of this post, one can see the huge variability in violence rates even among these perhaps not entirely representative samples. This suggests just how important it is that we not skew the data with unrepresentative or inappropriate data.

I don’t doubt there has been a general decrease in violence. I suspect however the picture is something more like that presented by Ferguson and Fry than the impression one gets from ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’ – at least in relation to the ‘origins and intensification of war.’

Ferguson presents a picture of initially low-level of violence (relatively), and then, in the last 10,000 years war emerges and violence intensifies – then, with colonialism there is a dramatic dislocation of culture which in many cases increased violence, for a time, before pacification. Where Pinker has a point is that, despite increasing ‘warfare’ that went along with state development, there seems to have been a drop in actual interpersonal violence. Take the study of thousands of skeletons from North & South America over the last several thousand years. They found a 13.4% violent trauma rate among hunter-gatherers, and a 2.7% rate among pre-Columbian city and village dwellers. They also found an increase of violent trauma in the colonial period, which supports Ferguson’s thesis (the highest rates of violent trauma were actually found on black males, 25-34, at rates of 18.53%). However, and this is important, the 13.4% hunter-gatherer rate is within a  relatively recent past (6,000 years), and can’t be extrapolated far beyond that. In fact, data from North and South America from the earliest periods supports the hypothesis that violence was not originally nearly as high. For example, in the Great Plains region, of 173 individuals from all periods up through Woodland, there was only 1 with signs of violence, whereas after 500 AD, 74 of 447 skeletons show signs of violence.

This kind of pattern of violence coming into the archaeological record occurs over and over again – but, strangely, despite his whole book tracing the historical development of interpersonal violence, Pinker does not treat pre-state societies historically, instead lumping them all together. I think that the reason he does this is probably because of his Hobbesian view of man in the state of nature and the connected belief in the decline of violence as being heavily tied to the development of the state and social complexity. Whereas, if this alternative view is the case, there were fairly low levels of interpersonal violence and warfare in a pre-state, anarchic condition – until increasing complexity, and whatever other conditions pertain to the last thousands of years, caused violence to increase (before state level complexity reverses the trend). When stated like this, it is clear why Pinker might simply sidestep the whole issue.

– See also the review by Douglas Fry

– Others have brought up issues with the medieval data as well

Online videos touching on these topics:

If you want to watch lectures/interviews of the ideas mentioned here, watch Steven Pinker summarize his book; watch an interview with Brian Ferguson in which he discusses his issues with attempts to paint human history as extremely violent. Also of interest, a conference on on ‘coalitionary violenence and warfare‘ (2 videos).