crime decline

The Decline of Crime



commit current (2) developed
stagnate wave (3) unemployment
decline survey overall
victim confirm property
rise fall as a whole
violent mugger incidence
fraud offence flock (2)
scam scourge potential
rapid shoplifting organised crime
scale (4) sheer pickpocketing
far cry drive by crack cocaine
epidemic dominate headlines


The Trend

Across the developed world, people are committing fewer crimes. Even with the current economic stagnation and high unemployment, the crime wave that began in the 1950s is in overall decline.

Both police records and surveys of victims confirm this.

In America the fall began around 1991; in Britain it started around 1995. In France, property crime rose until 2001—as has fallen since then.

Big Cities

Cities have seen the greatest progress. The number of violent crimes, such as murder and robbery, has dropped by 32% since 1990 across America as a whole.

In the biggest cities, it has fallen by 64%. In New York and Los Angeles the incidence of some crimes has fallen by as much as 90%.

This is far cry from the 1980s and early 1990s when an epidemic of crack cocaine and drive by shootings dominated the headlines.

In New York’s Times Square, drug dealers once mingled with muggers…now it’s flocked with tourist families.

Types of Crime

However not all types of crime are falling. Sexual offences, which often go unrecorded, may be becoming more or less common.

Bank fraud, money-wire scams and trade in personal information might have lots of growth potential.

Organised crime may be less violent in the rich world, but it is still a scourge in many places.


Even in countries where crime overall continues to decline rapidly, certain types of property crime have risen with unemployment. These include pickpocketing and shoplifting (the main target, not surprisingly, being electronic devices).

But the sheer scale of the drop—and its broad persistence in the face of the deepest economic depression in a century—make a new crime wave seem unlikely.


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1. Describe the trend in crime over the years.

2. Where have the falls in crime been the most pronounced (dramatic)?

3. All types of crime have been decreasing. Is this true or false?

4. Have some crimes increased?

5. Is there an irony or paradox about the decline in crime?

6. What might happen in the future?
A. Is crime a serious problem where you live? Do people think about safety and protection? Do you feel safe?

B. There have been changes in the crime rate of my city. Yes or no?

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