Crime Trends in Western Europe from 1990 to 2000
- Cite this article as:
- Aebi, M.F. Eur J Crim Policy Res (2004) 10: 163. doi:10.1007/s10610-004-3412-1
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This paper analyses the evolution of police recorded crime rates for nine offences (intentional homicide, assault, rape, robbery, theft, vehicle theft, burglary, domestic burglary, and drug offences) over the period 1990–2000 in 16 Western European Countries. The analysis shows that there was an increase in drug and violent offences, while property offences reached a peak at the beginning of the 1990s and started decreasing afterwards. The evolution of property offences can be related to the emergence of a large black market for stolen goods in Central and Eastern Europe at the beginning of the time series, while by the end of it that market was saturated and there had also been a reinforcement of police measures in the frontiers and of security measures in Western European households. The increase in drug offences is correlated to the rise of drug use in Europe shown by other indicators, and can be related to an increased availability of drugs in European markets. Finally, the upward trend in violent offences can be explained partially by gang struggles over the control of illegal markets and by the consolidation of problematic neighbourhoods, but seems also due to a large extent of increase in the reporting of violent offences by their victims and the recording of such offences by the police. The analysis shows that opportunity-based theories provide a satisfactory explanation of the trends in recorded crime, and that the crime opportunities are heavily influenced by socio-economical factors.