Murder By Numbers: England and Wales

Back about two years ago I wrote about murderers and their relationship to their victim. The discussion was about the common refrain heard from anti-gunners “the killer was known to the victim.” Anti-gunners like to pretend that by saying that killers and victims usually know each other that this somehow translates into “people kill their family members.”

This is total hogwash, but there is a reason that the anti-gunners try this. They know that, on average, women are more likely to be anti-gun than men. They hope that by lying by omission that they can convince women that they are in terrible danger by living with a man who owns a gun.

On Twitter today someone tried to trot that old story out. The difference is that he lives in the UK, so I didn’t have the data for him. Luckily the Home Office happens to post that data for England and Wales.(PDF. If you prefer Excel spreadsheets of the data, try this) I haven’t looked for Scotland, but I’m sure it exists. Let’s look at some numbers.

This is a handy chart of the relationship of homicide victims age 16 and up in England and Wales in the 2009/2010 data series. This is one year, not two years, apparently the Home Office doesn’t use January 1 as the start date for crime data. The above chart is based upon this data.

So here we can see the underlying data. You can see that the data on Under 16 (U16) is pretty clear. By a three to one margin, children under 16 are killed by family/friends, mostly by parents. I felt that the U16 numbers skew our data, so I factored them out. We aren’t interested (at least in this discussion) in child abuse. We are talking about murder and homicide among adults.

What we see is that while family/partner homicide is almost 29% of the total, those numbers are smaller than BOTH non-family acquaintance homicide and stranger killings. Even in England and Wales, you’re more likely to be killed by someone you know than you are to be killed by someone you know well enough to be sleeping with.

One caution. The England and Wales data, unlike the US data, lumps “unknown relationship” in with “Stranger.” I think this makes sense as if you can’t determine a relationship, then they are strangers, but the FBI disagrees. Keep this in mind if you wish to compare data across countries. 

If you want more England and Wales crime data, you can look for it here.

FBI Uniform Crime Reports are here.

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