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A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which the offender uses or threatens to use violent force upon the victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end, (including criminal ends) such as robbery. Violent crimes include crimes committed with and without weapons. With the exception of rape (which accounts for 6% of all reported violent crimes), males are the primary victims of all forms of violent crime.[1]

Violent crimes can include:

Violent crime by country[]

The comparison of violent crime statistics between countries is usually problematic, due to the way different countries classify crime.[2] Valid comparisons require that similar offences between jurisdictions be compared. Often this is not possible because crime statistics aggregate equivalent offences in such different ways that make it difficult or impossible to obtain a valid comparison.


The Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC)[3] document published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not have a single category for violent crime. Rather, violent crime is classified under a number of different categories that often indicate a range of both violent and non-violent behaviour. The categories include:[4]

  • Homicide and related offences, covering murder (including conspiracies and attempts), manslaughter and driving causing death.
  • Acts intended to cause injury, such as Assault, as well as other acts.
  • Sexual assault and related offences including non-assaultive sexual offences, such as those against a child.
  • Abduction and related offences such as kidnapping, deprivation of liberty or false imprisonment.
  • Robbery, extortion and related offences such as blackmail.


Canada classifies homicides, attempted murder, all assaults, all sexual offences, abduction and robbery as violent crime.[5]

New Zealand[]

New Zealand's crime statistics [6][7] has a category for violence that includes homicides, kidnapping, abduction, robbery, assaults, intimidation, threats, and group assembly, while all sexual offences are shown in a separate category from violence.

United Kingdom[]


Violent crime rates in the UK

Includes all violence against the person, sexual offences, and robbery as violent crime.[8]

Rates of violent crime are in the UK are recorded by the British Crime Survey. The Home Office Statistical Bulletin on "Crime in England and Wales" summarizes the findings of this survey. For the 2010/2011 report[9], the statistics show that violent crime continues a general downward trend observed over the last few decades as shown in the graph.

"The 2010/11 BCS showed overall violence was down 47 per cent on the level seen at its peak in 1995; representing nearly two million fewer violent offences per year."[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Regarding murder, "increasing levels of homicide (at around 2% to 3% per year) [have been observed] from the 1960s through to the end of the twentieth century". Recently the murder rate has declined, "a fall of 19 per cent in homicides since 2001/02", as measured by The Homicide Index. Since the 13th century AD, evidence shows large long-term declines in the rate of murder, from 100 people to 1 person per 100,000 between 1200 and 2000. [10]

By contrast, there is a widespread belief that violent crime is on the rise, due largely to a mass media which disproportionately reports violent crime. This phenomenon is described by Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature.

United States[]

The United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) counts five categories of crime as violent crimes: murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. According to BJS figures, the rate of violent crime victimization in the United States declined by more than two thirds between the years 1994 and 2009.[11] 7.9% of sentenced prisoners in federal prisons on September 30, 2009 were in for violent crimes.[12] 52.4% of sentenced prisoners in state prisons at yearend 2008 were in for violent crimes.[12] 21.6% of convicted inmates in jails in 2002 (latest available data by type of offense) were in for violent crimes.[13]

See also[]


  1. Bureau of Justice Statistics Victim Characteristics
  2. Segessenmann, Tanya Section 2 - International Comparisons of Recorded Violent Crime Rates for 2000, Research & Evaluation Unit,Ministry of Justice, Wellington, New Zealand. 11 June 2002 Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics 1234.0 - Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC), 1997. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  4. Segessenmann. Table A2
  5. Segessenmann. Table A4.
  6. Official New Zealand Police Statistics
  7. Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand Recorded Crime Tables
  8. Segessenmann. Table A3.
  9. British Crime Survey [1]
  10. Eisner, M. 2003: Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime [2]
  11. Violent Crime Rate Trends. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Prisoners in 2009. (PDF) Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  13. Profile of Jail Inmates, 2002. By Doris J. James. July 18, 2004. NCJ 201932. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. See Table 3 of the PDF file for the percent of inmates in for violent offenses.