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A violent crime, violent felony, crime of violence or crime of a violent nature is a crime in which an offender or perpetrator uses or threatens to use harmful force upon a victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder, assault, rape and assassination, as well as crimes in which violence is used as a method of coercion or show of force, such as robbery, extortion and terrorism. Violent crimes may, or may not, be committed with weapons. Depending on the jurisdiction, violent crimes may be regarded with varying severities from homicide to harassment. There have been many theories regarding heat being the cause of an increase in violent crime. Theorists claim that violent crime is persistent during the summer due to the heat, further causing people to become aggressive and commit more violent crime.[1]

Violent criminals who use hostile acts towards others include murderers, active shooters, kidnappers, rapists, burglars, muggers and torturers. Another category of violent criminals are pirates and hijackers of cars or aircraft. Criminal organizations, gangsters and drug cartels frequently employ violent criminals in their group, usually as enforcers or hitmen. Violent criminals often display characteristics such as low anger threshold, disinhibition/absence of impulsivity control, strong dominance/territorial instinct, antisocial personality, psychological/mental health issues and aggressive tendencies which enable them to carry out usually violent acts.

Violent crime by country

The comparison of violent crime statistics between countries is usually problematic, due to the way different countries classify crime.[2][3][4][5] 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. Depending on the jurisdiction, violent crimes may include: homicide, murder, assault, manslaughter, sexual assault, rape, robbery, negligence, endangerment, kidnapping (abduction), extortion, and harassment. Different countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Europe and the United States all have different systems of recording and reporting crimes.


See also: Crime in Australia

The International Crime Victimization Survey (ICVS) is one way Australia analyzes crime. This way is done separately from formal police reporting and gives the citizens of Australia an opportunity to express their experience of crime that otherwise would not have been reported to the police. It is similar to the NCVS which is a survey that the United States does to estimate non-reported crime. The two major categories of the ICVS are personal crime and household crime.

The first annual national survey of crime victimization in Australia, the Crime Victimisation Survey, was conducted in 2008–09.[6] Personal crimes included in the survey are:

Visual representation of a confrontation taking place that may lead to a personal crime occurring

One type of sexual offense is Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Intimate Partner Violence[7] often stems from other violent tendencies/ behavior such as anger, lack of self-control and/or mental instability. There is a gender gap that is notable when it comes to Intimate Partner Violence. Men are more likely to be guilty of general violence while women are more likely to be guilty of IPV. Lack of self-control in men has a direct correlation on whether they are guilty of IPV or not while anger is more correlated to women on whether they engage in this type of behavior or not.[8]

Household Crimes that could lead to violent crime are: burglary and attempted burglary. Rates for households crimes were higher than personal crimes and this rate is calculated based on every 100 people per 100 households.[9]

Australia (as well as New Zealand) classifies crime according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC).[10] Originally released in 1997 as the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC), it was revised in 2008 and renamed in 2011 to reflect the international use of the standard in both countries and follows agreed policy to harmonises classifications between the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Statistics New Zealand.[10] The standard has no single category for violent crime, but its first six divisions involve offences committed against the person:[10]

01 Homicide and related offences;
02 Acts intended to cause injury;
03 Sexual assault and related offences;
04 Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons;
05 Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person;
06 Robbery, extortion and related offences.


See also: Crime in Canada

Canada conducts an annual measure of crime incidences[spelling?] called the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR).[11] UCR "Violent Criminal Code" violations include: homicide, attempted murder, sexual assault, assault, robbery, criminal harassment, uttering threats, and other violent violations.[12] Canada also collects information on crime victimization every five years via its General Social Survey on Victimisation (GSS). Among the eight GSS crimes tracked are three violent crimes: sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault.[13]

New Zealand

See also: Crime in New Zealand

Prior to the country adopting the Australian standard for classifying offences (ASOC) in 2010,[14] New Zealand's crime statistics[15] had a category for violence that included homicides, kidnapping, abduction, robbery, assaults, intimidation, threats, and group assembly, while all sexual offences were shown in a separate category from violence.[3] Violent crime is not specifically defined New Zealand legislation, with the Crimes Act 1961[16] having separate parts that deal with "Crimes against morality and decency, sexual crimes, and crimes against public welfare"[17] and "Crimes against the person"[18] instead. During 2015, New Zealand Police changed the way it counted crime, changing from counting recorded offences to counting people victimised or those found to be offending.[19] The thinking here is that instead of just simply recording the offense, analyzing who exactly is the victim and who exactly is the offender can be more helpful in understanding the nature of the violent crime along with pointing out any trends/patterns. Historic recorded offence statistics from 1994 to 2014 are available from Statistics NZ,[20] while more recent statistic are available from New Zealand Police via[21][22] While violent crime is not defined in New Zealand Law, the first 6 divisions of the classification standard do define offences against the person.[10]


Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, England, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Greece and Sweden count minor violence such as slapping another person as assault.[2] An example is the case of Ilias Kasidiaris in 2012. Kasidaris, then spokesperson for Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party, slapped a left-wing female opponent in the face during a live televised debate. He was subsequently wanted by Greek prosecutors for assault and faced an arrest warrant.[23][relevant?]

France does not count minor violence like slapping somebody as assault.[2]

The United Kingdom includes all violence against the person, sexual offences, as violent crime.[24] Today, violent crimes are considered the most heinous whereas historically, according to Simon Dedo, crimes against property were equally important.[25] Rates of violent crime in the UK are recorded by the British Crime Survey. For the 2010/2011 report on crime in England and Wales,[26] 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." In 2010/11, 31 people per 1,000 interviewed reported being a victim of violent crime in the 12 preceding months. 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.

United States

See also: Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States per the Uniform Crime Report (UCR)[27]

The U.S. federal government's definition of a "crime of violence" is stated at Title 18 of the United States Code Chapter 1 § 16:[28]

The term “crime of violence” means—

(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or
(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.

There are two main crime databases maintained by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ): the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report (UCR). Non-fatal violence is reported in the NCVS, which measures rape and sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault reported by households surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau.[29] The UCR tracks similar non-fatal violence, plus murder and non-negligent manslaughter recorded by law enforcement.[30]

There are significant methodological and definitional differences between the NCVS and UCR:

Comparison of the UCR and NCVS in relation to reported/unreported crime

The NCVS excludes crimes against children under 12 years, persons in institutions, and, possibly, highly mobile populations and the homeless; however, victimizations against these persons may be included in the UCR. Since they use different methodologies and measure overlapping, but not identical, crimes, the data are complementary and not necessarily congruent.[31]: 9 


In 2019, The FBI's data reports that there were approximately 1,203,808 Violent Crimes that occurred in the United States. Compared to statistics from last year, robbery, rape and burglary offenses saw a decrease in rates while assault and murder saw a slight increase. Per 100,000 people living in the United States, 156 arrests were made that related to violent crime in some capacity. More specifically, for every 100,000 people, 3 arrests were made for murder, 7 for rape, 24 for robbery, and assault was the most common with 120 arrests made for every 100,000 people.[32]

Bureau of Justice Statistics and NCVS

Color Coded Rates of Violent Crime in the United States (2019)

In 2019, The NCVS data collected consists of 155,076 households across the United States. A notable statistic from this data collection is the rate of violent crime dropping 15% in 2019. Per 1,000 individuals interviewed, 7.3 people were said to be victims of a violent crime which is a decrease compared to 2018 (8.6 per every 1,000 people). Being a victim of a violent crime as it relates to race decreased as well. Black people saw a decrease of 29% while white people saw a decrease of 22%.[33]

Violent crime in both the UCR and NCVS category have a common variable: alcohol consumption. About 25% of American women have been victims of sexual assault while about 20% of American men have been the ones to commit this sexual assault and other violent behavior, which shows a clear gender gap.[34] Women are disproportionately more likely to be victims of these categories in the United States. Alcohol is known to impair judgement which results in irrational decisions being made. The UCR rates for forcible rape are so low because women are unlikely to report being a victim of this violent behavior.

In 2011, the UCR violent crime rate had dropped to 386.3 cases per 100,000 persons, compared to 729.6 per 100,000 in 1990.[35]

U.S. homicide data is also available in the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS).

Socioeconomic Status and Crime Rates

Socioeconomic status plays an infamous role in the violent crime rates shown in the graph above. There is a direct correlation to violence in the poor areas of the United States. Poverty and inequality have a direct impact on violent crime rates across countries, as well as social and environmental factors.[36][37] In these poor areas, individuals may take a "survival of the fittest" approach or feel that they do not have the necessary means to provide for themselves or family in a legal way, causing them to turn to violent crime.[37]


  2. ^ a b c European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics – 2010, fourth edition, p30.
  3. ^ a b Segessenmann, Tanya (11 June 2002). "International Comparisons of Recorded Violent Crime Rates for 2002" (PDF). New Zealand Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Compiling and Comparing International Crime Statistics". Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  5. ^ "Crime statistics - Statistics Explained". Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  6. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014-02-11). "Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2012-13". Commonwealth of Australia.
  7. ^ Bagwell-Gray, Meredith E.; Messing, Jill Theresa; Baldwin-White, Adrienne (2015-07-01). "Intimate Partner Sexual Violence: A Review of Terms, Definitions, and Prevalence". Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. 16 (3): 316–335. doi:10.1177/1524838014557290. ISSN 1524-8380. PMID 25561088. S2CID 12859724.
  8. ^ Thornton, Abigail J. V.; Graham‐Kevan, Nicola; Archer, John (2016). "Intimate partner violence: Are the risk factors similar for men and women, and similar to other types of offending?". Aggressive Behavior. 42 (4): 404–412. doi:10.1002/ab.21635 ISSN 1098-2337
  9. ^ Johnson H 2005. Crime victimisation in Australia: key findings of the 2004 International Crime Victimisation Survey. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 298. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
  10. ^ a b c d "1234.0 - Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), 2011". National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics, Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2 June 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  11. ^ "Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR)". 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  12. ^ "Crimes, by type of violation, and by province and territory". 2013-07-25. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  13. ^ Perreault, Samuel; Brennan, Shannon (2013-05-31). "Criminal victimization in Canada, 2009". Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  14. ^ "Crime Statistics for fiscal year ending 30 June 2010". New Zealand Police. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  15. ^ Police National Headquarters (1 April 2010). "New Zealand Crime Statistics 2009" (PDF). New Zealand Crime Statistics. A Summary of Recorded and Resolved Offence Statistics. New Zealand Police. ISSN 1178-1521. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  16. ^ "Crimes Act 1961 No 43 (as at 26 August 2020)". New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office/Te Tari Tohutohu Pāremata. 26 August 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  17. ^ "Part 7 Crimes against morality and decency, sexual crimes, and crimes against public welfare". New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office/Te Tari Tohutohu Pāremata. 26 August 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  18. ^ "Part 8 Crimes against the person". New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office/Te Tari Tohutohu Pāremata. 26 August 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  19. ^ "The transformation of NZ Police crime statistics: New measures and trends". New Zealand Police. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  20. ^ "NZ.Stat: Annual Recorded Offences for the latest Calendar Years (ANZSOC)". Statistics NZ. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  21. ^ "". New Zealand Police. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  22. ^ "Official New Zealand Police Statistics". New Zealand Police. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  23. ^ Greek far-right Golden Dawn MP wanted for assault. June 7, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  24. ^ "The nature of violent crime in England and Wales - Office for National Statistics". Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  25. ^ Dedo, Simon (2014-04-24). "When Theft Was Worse Than Murder". Nautilus. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  26. ^ Home Office (2011-07-14). "British Crime Survey". Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  27. ^ "Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics". Archived from the original on 2019-11-22. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  28. ^ 18 U.S.C. § 16
  29. ^ "Bureau of Justice Statistics: National Crime Victimization Survey". Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  30. ^ "FBI: Violent Crime". U.S. Department of Justice. 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  31. ^ Truman, Jennifer; Langton, Lynn (October 2013). "Criminal Victimization, 2012" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  32. ^ "CIUS Summary". FBI. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  33. ^ "Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) - Criminal Victimization, 2019". Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  34. ^ Abbey, Antonia; Zawacki, Tina; Buck, Philip O.; Clinton, A. Monique; McAuslan, Pam (2001). "Alcohol and Sexual Assault". Alcohol Research & Health. 25 (1): 43–51. ISSN 1535-7414. PMC 4484576. PMID 11496965.
  35. ^ "Reported violent crime rate in the United States from 1990 to 2012". February 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-15. Using FBI data.
  36. ^ Vieraitis, Lynne M. "Income inequality, poverty, and violent crime: A review of the empirical evidence". Social Pathology. ProQuest 194775428 – via ProQuest.
  37. ^ a b Blau, Judith R.; Blau, Peter M. (1982). "The Cost of Inequality: Metropolitan Structure and Violent Crime". American Sociological Review. 47 (1): 114–129. doi:10.2307/2095046 ISSN 0003-1224.

Further reading