Sketches in the Ruins of My Mind

graphic: Sketches in the Ruins of my Mind.


Dateline: 3rd December 1996
Author: Johnny <>

According to figures used by the UK Government Research Development and Statistics Directorate in its submission to the Cullen Inquiry, Scotland has over twice the homicide rate of England and Wales (16.3 vs. 6.7 in Table A.2 of Home Office Statistical Service Annex G, a submission to the Cullen Inquiry).

At first this seems astonishing, and surely should lead to questions in Parliament and an investigation as to why one area of the UK should have such a different rate than the other. After all, we sent the Army to Northern Ireland. Don't worry though if you live in Scotland, you can relax - the homicide figures are "adjusted". Like most other UK Government statistics, they are at best a ball-park figure on a good day and with a following wind. Here's why...

After the suspension of the death penalty for murder in 1965, the homicide rate in the UK continued to rise, and rise quite sharply. Serendipitously enough, it was soon after that when the Home Office decided to start adjusting the homicide figures for England and Wales... Previously, the headline statistics for homicide were those compiled from police submissions according to their initial inquiries. When the Coroner's court sits, some deaths previously tagged homicide will be recorded as something else, such as suicide or manslaughter, according to further evidence or the result of court actions against persons. After the adjustment regime was instituted, the homicide figures were revised according to these judgments - i.e. downwards. This had not happened prior to 1965, and so the homicide figures prior to 1965 will be artificially inflated compared to those post-1965 (and the method of recording had previously been altered in 1959, rendering 1959-65 figures non-comparable with pre-1959).

Scotland of course has a completely different legal system to England and Wales and a totally different system of recording crime (and definition of homicide), so its figures simply cannot be compared with those of England and Wales. Likewise, it's ridiculous to compare the England and Wales figures with those of the USA, since the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics inflate homicide figures by recording any death that isn't clearly natural causes, suicide or "act of god" as a homicide (including of course, justifiable homicide.) Actually, in Scotland multiple deaths may be counted as single homicide because a single case of homicide is counted for each act of murder or culpable homicide irrespective of the number of perpetrators or victims.

The classic comparison is that of USA and Japan, where Japan's homicide rate is tiny in comparison to the USA. However, if you combine the deaths due to suicide with the deaths due to homicide the mortality figures for the USA and Japan become the same owing to Japan's extremely high suicide rate. This demonstrates a statistical artifact caused by differential categorisation in superficially identical data-sampling methodologies (and it's such a common basic flaw in disparate data-sets that errors of analysis caused by this are invariably deliberate rather than incompetence). In Japan, what in America would be called a "murder-suicide" is listed as "suicide." The commonest scenario is that of when a despairing husband/father takes his own life and also kills his wife and children (presumably having concluded since life is too terrible for him it must also be such for his loved ones). The Japanese would record all the deaths as "suicide" whilst the Americans would record one "suicide" plus x number of "murder" victims. It's a sad fact that if you become a victim of homicide you are most likely to be murdered (or suicided depending where you live) by a relative or close friend.

Indeed, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Governments certainly know about propaganda. Particularly the British Government. Hitler was so enthused about British propaganda techniques he apportioned a large part of "Mein Kampf" to eulogising them. They're still doing him proud today.

See also,
"They have no guns - so they have a lot of crime," National Review, Tuesday July 18, 2000