Decline in crime puts a polish on the Big Apple

Strolling through Central Park at dusk with your wallet poking out from your back pocket is still not advised, but there is good news on crime in New York City. If the statistics are to be believed, there is much less of it.

So steep is the decline in New York's crime figures,that even Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is professing bewilderment. If the trend continues, the Big Apple will even fall off the FBI's list of 50 most crime-ridden US cities.

Most vivid is the drop in the murder rate. While statistics for most other crimes are notoriously unreliable, where homicides are concerned they usually tell a straight story. In 1994 the murder ratewas down a fifth over the year before. Preliminary police department figures for January and February this year show a drop of 40 per cent compared with last year.

Even the dreaded subway system has been declared more secure. Serious crimesunderground decreased nearly 22 per cent last year over the year before. There were 11,776 crimes on the subway last year, including 11 murders. Since 1990, the subway crime level has dropped 50 per cent.

"Nobody can be sure exactly what is going on", Mayor Giuliani admitted when quizzed on the figures. Needless to say he and Police Commissioner, William Bratton, are celebrating.

"The city is increasingly moving away from its erroneous title of `The Crime Capital of America', Mr Bratton declared earlier this week.As of the middle of last year, New York stood at number 47 on the FBI's official rankings of US cities according to rates of serious crime.

It is a picture that is much different from that at the end of the Eighties, during which violent crime exploded in New York as in many other US cities. It culminated in mid-1990 with a string of violent murders and a front- page appeal in one city tabloid to the then mayor, David Dinkins: "Do something, Dave".

The Giuliani administration points to its efforts to streamline police actions and focus on so-called quality of life strategies by arresting prostitutes, drug-dealers and road-side hustlers.There was a 21 per cent rise in arrests in the city last year. The overall serious felony rate in 1994 was down 11.7 per cent.

Criminologists acknowledge the drop in homicide rates as significant but suggest that demographic variables that have nothing to do with police action may have been a factor. There has been a population decline, for instance, in the 16-to-23 crime-prone age group in the city. Then there is the simple fact that many of those who have murdered in the past are now incarcerated.

James Fox, Professor of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, cautions that "sometimes things look good but only in comparison to something that is very bad. We had a huge increase in crime statistics in the late Eighties and to some extend the improvement in the Nineties is relative to a terrible situation".

The broader crime figures are meanwhile considered less than scientific. It has long been estimated that about half of all assaults and even rapes go unreported. Meanwhile, as New Yorkers have become more or less inured to petty burglaries and assaults and more cynical about their police protectors, the incentive to report those crimes has almost vanished.

The New York trend, meanwhile, is not isolated. Overall, 22 of America's largest cities reported at least some modest declines in crime rates in 1994.

Some reported even steeper drops than New York for the first six months of last year, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, El Paso and San Antonio.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
tech
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'