I don’t usually comment on crime figures, because so many others have done that in full detail before, but my eye was drawn to the BBC News, the major source for most UK citizens, and so well funded by a government levy that it the resources sufficient t have a dominant effect on how British people see the world. They have an online “Full Story” entitled:
Kyle Rittenhouse: Who is US teen accused of Kenosha Wisconsin protest murders?
This gives an account of the event, and there are three links offered within the story to provide context:
Three facts about African-Americans and criminal justice
‘Black people have been through a lot this year’
This police-free protest zone was dismantled – but was it the end?
I like facts, so I clicked on the first of those three links, which led me to a 1 June article entitled:
George Floyd: How are African-Americans treated under the law?
The three facts chosen were:
1) African-Americans are more likely to be fatally shot by Police;
2) African-Americans are arrested for drug abuse at a much higher rate than white Americans, although surveys show drug use at similar levels;
3) more African-Americans are imprisoned.
These three facts were illustrated by the three histograms reproduced below.
Any UK citizen reading the article would understandably conclude that African-Americans are being very unfairly treated. Police shoot them more often, they get arrested for drug use more often, and are put in prison more often, probably for drug use. As far as the BBC is concerned, those three facts sum up what you need to know. There is no mention of any racial differences in any criminal behaviour. I thought it worth checking a few publicly available sources of data to find out more. This is only a brief look, and others have spent much more time on the topic, but it illustrates what anyone can find out with a bit of searching.
Crime statistics require a full and balanced account of the relevant facts. One way to start is by looking at what citizens report to independent researchers who contact them through random sampling. Much crime goes unreported to the Police, because citizens either put up with it, or judge that the chances of the assailant getting caught are so low that reporting is not worth it. Only 43% of such crimes are reported to Police, and possibly those are the most serious ones.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics are an excellent source of real data. They do surveys of victimization in the community (National Crime Victimization Survey) which is unaffected by any presumed Police biases, and includes crimes reported and not reported. The Bureau statistics also measure the actual crimes reported to the police (Uniform Crime Reporting). Unfortunately, the two methods are somewhat different, in that the victimization survey does not include murder, but the UCR does, whilst not including sexual assault, which the survey includes. Victimization (NCVS) shows Hispanics as a separate category, UCR lumps them in with Whites. Irritating.
These are the 2018 figures.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the nation’s primary source of information on criminal victimization. Each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of about 240,000 interviews on criminal victimization, involving 160,000 unique persons in about 95,000 households. Persons are interviewed on the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States. The NCVS collects information on nonfatal personal crimes (i.e., rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, and personal larceny) and household property crimes (i.e., burglary/trespassing, motor-vehicle theft, and other types of theft) both reported and not reported to police. Survey respondents provide information about themselves (e.g., age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, marital status, education level, and income) and whether they experienced a victimization. For each victimization incident, the NCVS collects information about the offender (e.g., age, race and Hispanic origin, sex, and victim-offender relationship), characteristics of the crime (e.g., time and place of occurrence, use of weapons, nature of injury, and economic consequences), whether the crime was reported to police, reasons the crime was or was not reported, and victim experiences with the criminal justice system.
The report is cautiously written, and this will be a brief summary only, but here are some of the findings: The number of violent incidents increased from 5.2 million in 2017 to 6.0 million in 2018. The rate of rape or sexual assault increased from 1.4 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2017, to 2.7 per 1,000 in 2018. The portion of white persons age 12 or older who were victims of violent crime increased from 0.96% in 2015 to 1.19% in 2018 (up 24%), while the portion of males who were victims increased from 0.94% to 1.21% (up 29%). 1.18% of the population over 12 years of age experienced victimization.
Table 12 sets out the relevant figures. What citizens report to researchers shows that Asians, Hispanics and Whites are more likely to be victims than perpetrators. This is shown in column 7. Asians at 0.6 and Whites at 0.8 are victims, Hispanics at 1.0 equal, and Blacks at 2.0 are twice as likely to be offenders.
The offender-to-population percentage ratio is shown in column 8 of the table. Blacks are 1.8 times more likely to offend than their population numbers would suggest.
Table 14 shows who is doing what to whom:
On the contentious Black/White matter, Blacks attack Whites at a higher rate (15.3%) than Whites attack Blacks (10.6%).
Using victimization data, not arrests, the picture is as follows (includes Table 15 data):
Asians: 0.76% offend, 1.45% are victims, 75.9% of them at the hands of other races.
Whites: 1.56% offend. 2.31% are victims, 37.9% of them at the hands of other races.
Hispanics: 1.63% offend, 1.76% are victims, 54.6% of them at the hands of other races.
Blacks: 3.5% offend. 1.95% are victims, 29.7% of them at the hands of other races.
Asians are inoffensive citizens, very much net victims, very much getting attacked by others.
Whites offend more than Asians, but are net victims, also getting attacked by others.
Hispanics offend at the White level, are fractionally more victim than offender, and get attacked by others.
Blacks offend very much more, are net offenders, and are the least attacked by others.
On these figures, Police should be searching for black suspects proportionately more often.
Here are the Offender-Victim raw figure comparisons from Table 12
Asians 131,120 – 249,960 = 118,840 net victims
Hispanic 767,560 – 825,520 = 57,960 net victims
Whites 2,669,900 – 3,957,720 = 1,287,820 net victims
Blacks 1,155,670 – 644,710 = 510,960 net offenders
Every victim will form an opinion about the offenders. Every victim’s family and friends will get to hear about the race of the offender. Any rational Police service will search for the offenders as described by citizens. As a consequence, the Police will have to apprehend more of one racial group than another.
A reasonable measure of Police activity would be how successful they are in tracking down and apprehending offenders (whatever their race) and any reasonable justice system should be sentencing people in line with their offences (whatever their race). It is futile and misleading to keep comparing Police figures to population proportions when criminal behaviour is not equally prevalent in different racial groups. The “equal criminality hypothesis” has been shown to be wrong, so the requirement for “equal justice outcomes” in terms of population proportions will be similarly wrong.
All these matters have been covered by others, but it seems these findings need to be repeated. Arrest rates are disparaged by some as being biased, but one way of evaluating arrest statistics is to see whether they are proportionate to what citizens report in the Victimization Survey. Arrests should be raised below population expectations in the case of Blacks, and be lower for other racial categories. Homicide arrests show a big effect because homicides are most likely to be reported to the Police. Since the black-white arrest rate is the main matter of contention, these are compared below.
The next results are drawn from the Uniform Crime Reporting program. Whereas in the victimization study Whites and Hispanics are shown in different categories, in UCR they are lumped together as White, which downplays differences with the White results, so a rough estimate only.
For brevity, on the equal criminality hypothesis, for each crime the Black rate should be 12% of arrests (Table 12 for population figures). On the basis of victim reports, on the other hand, they should be 2.5 times higher. For more serious crimes the multiple may be higher. Here are the Black arrest percentages for each category of crime, and how many times they are higher than expected.
Murder 53% 4.4 times higher
Rape: 28.6% 2.4 times higher
Robbery: 54 % 4.5 times higher
Aggravated assault: 34% 2.8 times higher
Burglary: 29% 2.4 times higher
Larceny/theft 30% 2.5 times higher
Motor vehicle theft 32% 2.7 times higher
Arson 25% 2.1 times higher
Violent crime 37% 3.1 times higher
Property crime 30% 2.5 times higher
Arrest rates are consistent with what members of the public report about their assailants. They are at least 2.1 times higher, and usually more than that. For the most violent of crimes, the arrest rate differences from population expectation are even higher. Overall, arrests appear to be proportionate.
Finally, absolute levels of arrests for murder are informative, because they allow comparisons with countries of origin, so long as the data from those countries are sufficiently reliable.
The White arrest rate for murder is 3,953/171,493,180 which is .000023 or 2.3 per 100,000.
Countries close to that range are:
The United Kingdom is 1.2, lower than White Americans, but there are many countries lower than that, many of them Asian.
The Black arrest rate for murder is 4,778/33,132,390 which is .00014421 or 14.42 per 100,000 (This is 6.3 times higher than the White/Hispanic level).
Countries in that range are:
The Asian rate is 0.55 per 100,000
The United States homicide rate is given as 5.35 per 100,000. This would appear to be a composite of different rates between racial groups.
If I had to choose 3 facts to illustrate how African-Americans are treated under the law, they would be:
1) Based on victim accounts, African Americans have a high rate of offending, and should be the subject of more Police arrests and Court appearances. All subsequent statistics must take this into account if justice is to be observed.
2) Arrest statistics are broadly in line with victim accounts.
3) Higher imprisonment arises from higher rates of offending by different races, broadly comparable with those in their countries of origin.