NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 7, 2005

Britain's police force is the most ineffective in the developed world, according to the United Kingdom's Civitas, an institute for the study of civil society. Furthermore, crime rates have soared over the past several decades while police numbers are falling behind.

In their book, "Cultures and Crimes: Policing in Four Nations," Norman Dennis and George Erdos compared policing in the United Kingdom to three other nations: the United States, France and Germany. The authors found:

  • Since 1964, domestic burglaries in Britain have increased from 72,000 to 402,000 in 2003-2004; in other words, there are now five domestic burglaries for every one burglary in 1964.
  • England and Wales reported over 1.5 million crimes by the end of the 1960s; by the end of the 1970s, crimes reported almost doubled to 2.7 million.
  • Police numbers are not keeping pace; in 1921, there were enough police patrols for a ratio of one officer for every two crimes but in 2002-2003, the ratio dwindled to one officer for every 44 crimes.

Dennis and Erdos attribute some of the problem to a denial by public officials that crime is on the rise. Furthermore, Britain has all but abandoned its previous practice of "beat policing," where officers walk the streets in order to deal with low-level acts of disorder before they escalate to more serious offenses.

Sources: "Britain's Policing is Amongst the Worst in the World," Civitas, January 2, 2005; based upon Norman Dennis and George Erdos, "Cultures and Crimes: Policing in Four Nations," Civitas, January 2005.

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