Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Crime statistics in Democracy 3

Democracy 3 has two crime measurements. Violent Crime and Crime Rate. Obviously they can vary massively, depending on your policies. I’ve been investigating the differences between the UK and the USA to try to get the policies to all make sense, whilst also presenting the player with roughly sensible crime and violent crime rates in these two countries. This is, of course, totally impossible. But I like to try six impossible things before breakfast, so I am trying anyway. If all else fails, i can include cultural override scripts to nudge the stats in the right direction. Some countries do naturally have a more law-abiding culture than others, so this is fairly acceptable.


Where I live in the UK, people think that our ban on handguns is a good way to reduce violent crime. In the US, many people think that their freedom to own handguns is a good way to reduce violent crime. I won’t get into the argument too much, except to say I can see both things making sense. If there are more guns, surely there will be more crimes using them (especially suicides). I simply cannot kill a burglar fleeing my home without a gun (although I could probably maim him given twenty seconds to grab my bow). Surely gun availability increases crime… and yet… If I was a burglar, I think I’d be far less likely to break into someones house if I thought they had a pistol under the pillow. And I’d be wary of robbing a bank if half the customers were packing firearms. Hmm…I dunno…

You never see this sort of thing in bradford on avon.
You never see this sort of thing in bradford on avon.


A look at the impartial (ish) world of statistics makes for interesting reading:

United Kingdom 39.78
United States 53.44

So *more* crime in general in the USA?
United Kingdom 1.2
United States 4.8

So a LOT more homicides in the USA?

I’m not trying to argue for gun control. I just want to work out *why* this is the case. Could it be cultural? is the history of the USA (more recent wild west, frontier attitude) making them more trigger-happy? Is US culture more violent than the UK (I doubt it, we watch the same movies). Maybe Britain has less inequality and more CCTV cameras? It’s a really difficult one to analyze. maybe there *is* something to the argument that more guns just leads to more gun crime, but then why is the overall crime rate not lower? Is the lower population density an issue meaning police response times are slower? maybe Americans report crime more than Brits do? maybe the US has more laws to break?

Of course, we could debate this all year. People do. It’s just one of hundreds, probably thousands of relationships in the game I’m trying to get right. Don’t yell at  me if you disagree. It’s all very very easy to mod :D. But out of curiosity, how do you explain the UK/USA crime stats differences?

22 thoughts on Crime statistics in Democracy 3

  1. 1) Gun availibility has a massive impact on suicide rates which far outstrips violent crime.

    2) The way crime statistics are measured differs drastically. There’s a big difference between aggravated assault and homicide but they’re often lumped together as “violent crime”.

    3) Bradford held the highest gun crime rate in the UK not so long ago…

  2. Maybe it would be interesting to study Canada, as they have access to guns (with more legislation than in the US though) but intentional homicide rate is 1.6.

  3. A couple of thoughts on the homicide side.

    This isn’t really informed by anything (no official statistics or research) other than observation of what people talk about, but I wonder if the differing homicide rates are related to differing gang cultures in the UK and US. From discussions I’ve heard Americans have, it seems a lot of homicides are related to gang violence, but isn’t something I hear about so much in the UK? I know there is gang violence here, and gang murders do happen, but it does feel like it’s on a different (much smaller) scale.

    Having just done a little digging, there does seem to be some statistics that (vaguely) support this hypothesis. This BBC article suggests around half of the 27 teen murders in London were gang related:
    Meanwhile, these LA crime stats suggest that LA is seeing around that many gang related homicides a month:

    I haven’t found anything on the number of non-teen gang related homicides, but what I’ve read seems to suggest that, in the UK at least, this is primarily a teen problem. So it may well be that LA really is seeing more than ten times as many gang-related homicides a year than London. At the very least, it seems pretty like it’s seeing substantially more than London.

    The other aspect relating to homicide rates is that I believe you’re more likely to survive being stabbed than being shot, particularly if it’s something like a mugging gone wrong where they weren’t specifically looking to kill. As such, people are more likely to die when these violent conflicts do happen in the States, because it’s much, much more likely a gun will be involved, particularly in the previously mentioned gang violence. That said, gangs are responsible for a lot of the gun crime here too, with Manchester Police estimating over 60% of all gun crime is gang related there.

  4. In the USA the problem is mainly gang related. Lots of areas with massive poverty. I know there are gangs in the UK too but I believe the scale is not the same. I would be more curious to compare non-gang homicides between the two countries.

  5. This is kind of modeled already, in that when crime and poverty etc reach a certain level, street gangs become a problem, which in turn will lead to more crime, and can be countered in specific ways (curfews, CCTV, armed police etc).

  6. Just my $0.02 —

    I’m a dual American/Norwegian citizen who lives in Texas. So Norway is very interesting because it has a pretty high ownership of guns, albeit with some regulations:

    Norway also has one of the lowest intentional homicide rates:

    So I think there probably is some connection between gun ownership and violent crime, but there’s a million other hidden variables, too.

    My hypothesis is the prison culture in America vs Norway. America has a famous prison-industrial complex, and one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and is also pretty famously racist. IMHO, this is a breeding place for supergangs. Throw in the drug war and it’s gasoline on the fire.

    Norway, on the other hand, basically sends violent criminals (including murderers and rapists) to summer camp. Whereas America is pretty tilted towards the “Incarceration is about Punishment/Revenge” side of Justice, Norway, is tilted almost entirely towards the “Incarceration is about Rehabilitation and making sure we fix these people.”

    However, before I sing Norway’s praises to the ends of the earth, I also have to point out another hidden variable: Norway is a TINY ASS COUNTRY, culturally and ethnically homogenous, with money coming out the wazoo. America is an enormous, continent-sprawling empire, with major financial problems and major historical baggage with race relations.

    As a person with a background in computer science, I think one thing to keep in mind is that some systems turn into completely different animals at different scales. What works for small countries might not work for big countries.

  7. There’s a theory that it has a lot to do with culture. People are very touchy about their rights and their honor, and feel entitled to defend them violently, while not trusting the government to actually get the job done for them. See

    (My sociology classes coming back to me!)

    A large number of gun owners in the US not only don’t trust the government to take care of problems, but are imagining the possibility of someday being in conflict with the government. Better have a gun handy JUST IN CASE things go to shit and the government tries to round us up!

    Touchy frontier attitudes also interfere with people being willing to undergo training if the guv’ment orders it, which may tie into the insufficient storage safety that leads to so many people being shot _by accident_ in the US.

  8. I would suggest watching or re-watching Bowling for Columbine. For all the flak that Michael Moore gets, I thought the movie was surprisingly balanced (his other stuff… less so). The entire focus is on why America’s gun violence is so unusual, so it’s basically a documentary devoted to answering your question. The general conclusion was that it’s a cultural thing.

  9. I would say that the crimes and murders statistics can not be trusted whatsoever, and one must use common sense. Absolute power corrupts, so where there is more imbalance of power, there will be more crime, and more fudging the numbers. There is the most imbalance of power wherever the populous is disarmed.

  10. Cliff,

    We don’t have gun control here, is the issue. Like, yeah you get checked if you go to a store, but for internet/person to person/gun shows, no check is needed, ergo, you essentially don’t have gun control.

    No one will implement it because the gun ownership advocates will say that people will go around the law if put into place.

    So, the argument is that because people would ignore the law, we shouldn’t put a comprehensive law into place. Oh and those folks reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally believe in the “slippery slope” thing where a little gun control will suddenly result in 1984 two days later.

    Frigidaire and others who worry about statistics or the man or whatever? Don’t you see the people dying. On the news, every night. In mass shootings, every other month. Even if you don’t want to trust SOME BIG SCIENCEY MAN, just watch the news for Detroit, Chicago, Youngstown, Gary and just count the times the news reports someone killed by gun violence. It’s chilling and it’s real.

    Rob, Bowling for Columbine is just ok. If Michael Moore didn’t spend so much time trying to Prove He’s Right And Being A Douche To Do So, it’d be better.

    Also, I think the US is a bit easier to cow/control through media via OMG THIS IS SO SCARY stories, and thus has more self-harming responses (laws passed and applied out of proportionally to minorities, thus further supporting general culture disability towards minorities).

  11. As an American who’s been in London nearly a year now, I’m trying to understand whether all the events about which my neighbors say “Oh! You should report that to the police!” are things that *they* would report to the police, or things that they don’t really think they can do anything about, but maybe we care enough to.

    The local rulemaking process is also a bit confusing. “We had some hooliganism in the mid-90s, so we’re going to forbid all football (soccer) playing by anybody over 12, and just generally be afraid of any teenagers we see. Because if we told the teens who are misbehaving to leave, they might get upset. This way we can at least complain to each other about the teens *and* about one another’s failure to assertively enforce the rules.”

    I think the first condition might suggest a lower reporting rate of minor crimes? But it’s all anecdotal.

  12. while 13. is my lucky number… not so sure about the Pink erm..spaceship ..?

    PRRRriiiicksssss INNNNnnn SPAAAAce..?!

  13. This (I think very good) book:
    argues that it is less about having access (or not) to guns, and more to state having (or not having) monopoly on violence. There are many countries, after all (Norway, Switzerland, …) with good access to guns and much lower rates of crime than US of A.

    In “The Better Angels…” author argues that, paradoxically, citizens of USA had “too much freedom”, that is they could (and often did) be violent (think about “wanted dead or alive”, or lynches) and state was more or less OK with that.

    Not so much in kingdoms of Old Europe, for example.

  14. That sounds close to my low population density / frontier attitude comment, in terms of it being a natural part of US culture to think you need to defend your own homestead with a gun from bandits, even if you haven’t really needed to think that way for 4 or 5 generations. Europe hasn’t had to think that way since pre-feudal times, so we are less inclined to think we have to be armed to defend our homes. Maybe?

  15. Geedeck gets most of it wrong, there are plenty of laws on the books for gun control, ownership just isnt banned in most places like it is over the pond. For example you can’t legally buy a gun from the internet and call it good. If you do buy from internet it gets shipped to federally licensed dealer where you can pick it up. There are plenty of wait periods and background checks, but much of that depends on the state..good luck modeling that.

    To your question though, geedeck does point us in the right direction. He writes, ” …just watch the news for Detroit, Chicago, Youngstown, Gary…”

    Demographics is what you are looking for, or at least one major variable.

  16. SomeGuy,
    I’m not wrong. We can disagree about the minutia, but I hold my point. You can go to a gun show in Ohio, buy an AR-15, a bunch of long clips, and then drive to California. Ok, no you can’t do a full sale online, but given the loopholes, there’s nothing to stop someone from connecting online and then arranging a private sale. Yes, literally there are laws. And anyone with that 3rd brain cell can easily work around them.

    And that’s what I think is the challenge for Cliff to model. Due to our Federal/State system, one state can set the arms control lowest common denominator for the entire nation. That’s what i’m trying to say. Most local laws are easily worked around.

  17. If you compare to other countries with low gun control maybe you’ll get a wider picture, like Switzerland

  18. I am going to chalk it up to diversity and history. With so many races here that, once upon a time, hated one another in this very country, there is a lot of animosity toward one another. That and the unemployment rate, plus legal guns, and freedom to hate whoever you want openly to their face results in retaliatory action/feeling of necessity to commit a crime (“No money? That is alright! With my pre-date Glock 18 I can rob someone of -their- money!”) In the end it boils down to each race expressing belief of superiority and none (obviously) willing to forfeit the title. Just look on youtube at any video with an African in it and you will see racial warfare. Watch any youtube video with a Caucasian murderer and you will see the same as people feel the need to shovel their personal crime rate onto another. Feeling of inferiority causes more violent tendencies (Along with minority benefits and stereotypical claims of abuse of such benefits by minorities (Notice I said “claims”, so everyone stay civil here)). With such diversity and alleged freedom comes feeling of ownership and need to prove oneself. That is my take on it. And for the record, I do not hate any specific type of person, I hate everyone equally :)

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