Crime and Social Control
THE GLOBAL CONTEXT: INTERNATIONAL CRIME AND VIOLENCE
A. Similarities in crime throughout the world
Crime is ubiquitous (there is no country without crime).
Most countries have police, courts, and prisons.
Adult males comprise the largest category of crime suspects.
Theft is most common crime worldwide.
Violence crime is relatively rare.
Differences in international crime rates
Dramatic differences exist in international crime rates, although comparisons are
made difficult by variations in measurement and crime definitions.
A global crime database from data from the United Nations and Interpol reveals
differences between the United States and other countries.
First, the United States does not have the highest crime rate in the world.
(1) The U.S. ranks twelfth among 165 nations with Sweden, Denmark, Australia,
and Great Britain, in rank order, each having a higher crime rate than the
(2) The differences are considerable. For example, although the U.S. crime rate
is 4,160 reported crimes per 100,000 population, Sweden’s crime rate, which
is the highest in the world, is 9,604 reported crimes per 100,000 population.
Violent crime: the United States once again is not in the top ten.
(1) With a violent crime rate of 504 reported crimes per 100,000 population, the
U.S. ranks nineteenth in violent crime.
(2) Several developing countries (e.g. Namibia, Swaziland) as well as developed
countries (e.g. Australia, Sweden) have higher violent crime rates than the
Property crimes share a similar pattern.
(1) The United State ranks thirteenth in property crimes (car theft, burglary,
(2) Sweden, Denmark, Australia and Great Britain top the list.
Global priority areas
Interpol has identified five global priority areas: drugs and criminal organizations
(e.g. drug trafficking); financial and high tech crimes (e.g. counterfeiting, fraud, and
cyber-crime); tracing fugitives; countering terrorism; and trafficking in human
Each of these priority areas contains a relatively new category of crimes—
D. Transnational Crime
Defined as “organized criminal activity across one or more national borders.”
The significance of transnational crime should not be minimized.
Transnational crime will be a defining issue of the 21st century for policymakers
- as defining as the Cold War was for the 20th century and colonialism was for
Terrorists and transnational crime groups will proliferate because these crime
groups are major beneficiaries of globalization.
They take advantage of increased travel, trade, rapid money movements,
telecommunications and computer links, and are well positioned for growth.