Worldwide Crime Wave

  • Paul Knepper


When experts of the 1920s and 1930s talked about crime, they used the vocabulary of crime waves. A ‘crime wave’ could refer to a surge of criminality in general, to the appearance of a novel method of breaking the law, or to the rise of a new population of criminals in society. Sometimes, reference was made to a source of statistics, but more often than not, crime wave theory had to do with expectation rather than description. Wave theorists talked most about how a series of recent criminal events signalled a trend likely to continue into the future. A wave of crime could threaten a city, nation, or as a number of police, prison authorities, journalists and academics feared, the entire planet. ‘The crime wave now afflicting the whole world’ American writer Joseph Gollomb declared, following his tour of European capitals in 1921, ‘is a logical aftermath of the war. Economic distress—poverty, insufficient food, clothing and fuel—the loosening of men’s animal passions, coupled with the general disorganization of social structure, are producing their inevitable effect’.1


Prison Population Crime Statistic International Crime National Socialist State Royal Commission 
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Copyright information

© Paul Knepper 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Knepper
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SheffieldUK

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