The figures are horrifying, almost unbelievable. The once safe and peaceful United Kingdom has become a battleground. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, the year ending March 2018, saw 726 homicides. Of these, 285 homicides involved killing with a knife or sharp instrument, the highest number since the Home Office Homicide Index began in 1946.
In London alone, there were some 120 homicides, mainly stabbings and shootings. A third of the cases involved victims aged 16 to 24.
Even the British police, renowned throughout the world as untouchable guardians of the people and forbidden to carry guns, now find themselves victims of the wave of violence sweeping the UK.
In the UK, Police officers are being injured on duty at a rate of 28 a day. Last year British bobbies were victims of over 10,000 assaults that caused injuries and a further 20,000 or so assaults that did not cause injuries. That’s 30,000 attacks on policemen; well-armed criminals see no problem is taking on unarmed policemen who are often sent out to patrol the streets alone.
The death penalty for murder in the UK was partly abolished in 1965. The Abolition of Death Penalty Act left four capital offences: high treason, “piracy with violence”, arson in royal dockyards and espionage. Setting fire to a ship or two was considered a much more serious crime than murdering a policeman, even if he was guarding the royal ships.
In 1998 the death penalty in the UK was finally abolished, for all offences, by the Human Rights Act and the Crime and Disorder Act. Criminals no longer need to fear the hangman’s noose and have every incentive to use any violence necessary to escape from a passing plod.
In Israel there are an average of about 100 murders a year, with about 64 percent of the victims non-Jews. Many are family affairs involving a perceived loss of ‘honour’. The homicide rate produced by criminal activities is relatively low: 2.4 killed per 100,000 inhabitants in a year (for comparison, in Switzerland the number is 0.71, in Russia 14.9, in South Africa 34, and in Venezuela 49 – you don’t want to live in Venezuela).
Of course, we have the added tragic deaths from Palestinian terror attacks. But for all the horrific loss for the families involved, in 2018 there were “only” 13 deaths from terrorism. (Please excuse my use of “only”, I fully understand that each of these deaths is a tragedy, both for the families and all of Israel.)
So, we see from the dry statistics that, as a Jew, you are safer here in Israel than in the UK. Certainly, as a policeman, Israel is the place to be. Just this week, while an unarmed British policeman was killed by a gang of burglars, a rare knife attack on an Israeli police officer, by two Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City, ended with one of the assailants being shot dead and the officer moderately wounded.
But, if you’re looking for peace and quiet, your choices are few. A glance at a list of murders by country shows zero murders last year in just six ‘locations’; it’s hard to see them as countries – Andorra, Vatican City, Monaco, Liechtenstein and two islands in the Pacific Ocean; Niue and the Republic of Nauru.
Niue, with a population of 1,600, is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,400 kilometres from New Zealand, east of Tonga, south of Samoa, and west of the Cook Islands; that’s the definition of the middle of nowhere. Nauru is the third-smallest country in the world (behind Vatican City and Monaco), with a population of 11,000.
They make Israel seem like a large and well-populated country, but it would be nice if we could also have a zero murder rate.