05 March 2013

Crime in England vs US

I witnessed a crime yesterday

Actually, I witnessed 3 brave men chase down 
a burglar who was fleeing by bike

I think he had stolen something from the small corner grocery store

When they got him off his bike,
they held him on the street while they waited for the police to arrive

Curiously, it was the policewoman who calmly talked to the perpetrator,
not one of the three policemen
Perhaps policewomen are seen as non-threatening?
I hadn't thought about this important role before

The streets were filled with pedestrians when the whole thing happened
Sadly I saw many elderly people stand frozen, shocked, to see the event unfold
Clearly they were traumatized by what they saw
I hope they slept okay last night
I know I didn't

Petty crime feels more pervasive in England than in the US

As an expat said to me about her home country,
when third hand stories about crime start to become first hand stories with frequency,
you know there is a problem

In the US, I never knew anyone who came eye to eye with a criminal in the act

Here, I have a handful of friends who either witnessed a high street burglary
or were victims of home invasions

I know that America looks like the Wild West with our ownership of guns
but I do think a potential burglar thinking someone *might* have a gun at home
prevents many home invasions in America
(guns are illegal in England - police don't even carry them)

Early on I was given the advice that if someone is burglarizing my home in England,
do not intervene - just let them carry on and they won't hurt you

In America, you can use whatever means to protect your home and family

Yet here, the news reports crime victims being prosecuted for harming a perpetrator
- intentionally or not -
It makes one feel defenseless

Do I feel safer in the US or in England?
I feel less likely to witness or be a victim of a crime in the US,
but if I do, it would be more violent

So I guess my safety-o-meter feels about the same, just different
Either way, not that safe


Michelle said...

This was interesting to read; certainly education on a subject I didn't know much about.

Mary De Bastos said...

My sister used to live in Arizona and she has had 3 bikes stolen and Christmas present's stolen right out of her car. Bashed windows and her car stereo stolen.

I think petty crime happens everywhere. No matter where you live. I've never seen a crime here in Scotland. I don't have friends who has witnessed it either. But I don't think it doesn't happen. Or that once country is better at it than the other.

It happens. It is uncomfortable. It's sad.

Iota said...

Oh poor you, what a shock.

Within the first month of moving to our new home (very safe neighbourhood), we were sitting at breakfast and saw armed police running across our front lawn. Quite scary. There'd been a break-in two doors up. No way would you get armed police for that in the UK. They caught the burglar red-handed on the spot.

I feel safer here, because of the lack of guns. And maybe, one just feels safer on home territory, at some deep emotional place.

Dave D said...

There's a lot of talk by politicians in the UK about homeowners being allowed to protect their homes against burglars but I think most of it is the usual "political spin". The police and the CPS still seem hell bent in a lot of cases on prosecuting homeowners when burglars are attacked.


Barbara said...

I guess I have never really given it much thought.I don't know if I feel safer in one country than another, but sometimes being in certain situations make me more cautious. I'm definitely more conscious of pickpockets here in Europe than I am in the States, and I'm much more weary of the people begging for money on the streets.

Ali said...

I'm from a part of Canada that thankfully, is still a safe place at pretty much any hour. I can't say the same about the whole country, but its certainly safer, imo, than the U.S.

I think the problem in the U.K. is that the teeth have been taken out of the legal system. So much so that the police and the courts are unable to do their jobs properly. When that happens, people commit crimes with impunity, knowing there will be few or no significant consequences. I don't feel as safe as I did when we first moved here ten years ago and I think that's the reason.


Victoria said...

I think it's hard to compare, just for the fact that the U.S. is so huge in comparison to England. We moved away from Southern California last year to NW Florida, the crimes are different here than they were in So Cal. A lot of gang stabbings, shootings etc. in So Cal whereas here, they seem to have more break ins. I guess it all evens out but I would love if there were less guns here in the U.S.!

HippieGirl21 said...

A few years ago, a guy tried to break into my house a few months before Christmas. It was around 11:00 at night and we heard the doorknob rattling. Me turning the light on must have scared him. Burglaries are real scary.

And hopefully I don't sound like a nerd because of this, but I really didn't know that 'CPS' was a real service. I actually thought it was made up just for Law and Order: UK. But when I did a post recently about lawyers in the UK, that came up. It stands for Crown Prosecution Service, which has got to be the coolest thing I've ever heard of!!

Gesci said...

I think it also has something to do with location, though. I grew up in Atlanta and the worst thing we had was my sister's car window was broken once (nothing stolen; she didn't leave stuff in her car out of common sense). Then I went to college and my townhouse was broken into once and my Jeep radio was stolen another time. Also once when we were in downtown Atlanta for a hockey game our stuff was stolen out of my Jeep (we'd driven in straight from classes, but parked in a "secure" lot). I've not had any other crimes happen to me, though.
But as for location, Harrogate area is generally pretty safe, plus we were in country outside of it. There's a feeling that you're more hidden from view so more likely to be a victim, but I never noticed or heard of anything happening in any of the villages around us- just a few motorist accidents.
I'm not a fan of the amount of guns in the U.S., though. I feel like you've got a lot more chance to survive a stabbing than a shooting.

PURA VIDA said...

interesting post...where I live...we have zero (knock on wood) crime...unless you want to include egging which is a crime and does happen on occasion

Michelle said...

The other comments have kept this subject on my mind. Giving the criminals more protection than homeowners is mind-boggling to me. The phrase "A man's home is his castle" HAD to be coined in the UK because the US doesn't have any ancient castles, but here in the US, the sentiment is still supported while in the UK, it sounds as if it is not.

Jan said...

I think it's very difficult to feel safe in British cities. I received an e-mail at work today which said that two of our older pupils had been attacked at the weekend (one very badly). I'm lucky enough to be able to retreat to my little rural corner each evening. I do worry for my pupils. Jx

Wendy said...

I don't think I'd like NOT being able to protect my property or house. I'd feel naked without a gun and I think it also scares people away as they don't know what to expect when attempting a robbery...I can not rely on police officers or the government to protect me, my family or property. I love Texas and our right to bear arms...don't mess with me!

Patricia said...

I've lived in the US most of my life, although I was born and lived in England until about age 17....I now live in a small town east of Cleveland, Ohio. It's like a cute little town from the old days, where everyone knows everyone else, and until recently, we never bothered to lock our doors when we left. That's changed in the past few years, petty theft, home burglaries are common now....is it the economy - who knows, but I know I feel that we have it worse now than England with our crime rate. Not even including the crimes here using a gun - don't even want to go there......

Riza J said...

I've never witness or been a victim of a crime in the US. And I live in Los Angeles.
I've been to Europe 3x in the last 5 years, including the UK and I've never witness or been a victim of a crime there either.

Joy said...

I was born in the UK at a time when it was safe (1946) and coppers used to walk the beat. We left for Australia in 1966 but have visited UK a few times and felt safe each time. We have also visited USA and have been warned of theft from hire cars, hotel rooms etc. People seem more paranoid in the USA. Here in Australia in the suburbs of Sydney we used to have alarms on cars and the house and still got burgled. We are now living 30 mins from a major town so its country (bush) and never lock anything. Its a good feeling. Joy

debbie said...

This is an interesting topic. I have very good friends who were expats living outside London and raising their daughter. I remember the mom telling me that their daughter and friends would take the train into London on the weekend while in High School. I would never have allowed my children to take the subway into San Francisco during high school. I questioned my friend who told me England doesn't have the violent crime we do in the US. As a child growing up in Southern California, we never locked our front door even at night. Now I wouldn't dream of leaving it open. Not sure what has really changed.

Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe said...

I do find this an interesting topic! I'd been wondering about crime in the UK. We've lived in various places in Europe and so far no petty theft (I am highly cautious of my bag/wallet), although we made a very careless mistake and left a very expensive camera on a park bench! Talk about a gut-wrenching mistake. I'm SO thankful for insurance!
Of course, then we go to the US for 6 months we stayed at a hotel and had our car window smashed. Nothing of value was in the car and nothing was taken so I don't even understand what the draw was in the first place!
Any which way, crime is everywhere and I think we just need to do our best to safe-guard ourselves from being a target.

Gillian said...

Very interesting. My good friend and neighbour was burgled only last week and it felt very close to home. Burglary is a problem in the UK right now, especially since the recession. Tough times.

Gillian x

Jeanie said...

What a fascinating self-debate and set of observations. We hear of petty things now and then -- Rick had a gas can stolen from the carport, but it was in plain sight. But really, rather little. I am more likely to find someone thieving in our offices -- running in and grabbing a wallet -- than at home. Much to think on here.

ann said...

First, my mom would have loved the Sherlock museum. Having never been a victim of crime or a witness to a crime, I don't really have issues with safety. I do hope that we never find out. Perhaps British burglars are not as violent as the ones here if they just steal and don't harm.

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

I wonder if it all comes down to where you live, in either country. I imagine that there are communities in the US with high rates of petty crime that wouldn't be apparent to folk who didn't live there, just as is the case in the UK. I suppose the best comparison would be murders/burglaries/whatever per head of population. But of course statistics and perceptions often differ.

Interesting post :)

debbie bailey said...

It's a fact that crime increases when guns are taken away or restricted. People seem to have things reversed in their minds about that. Gun ownership is a thug deterrent. Our second amendment rights here in America are being threatened right now. The reason that amendment was put into place was so people would have protection from a bad government, and the shape our country's in, we'd better keep our guns. Lord help us and them if they try and take our guns!