Belfast is UK's third most violent city
Published 24/04/2013 | 11:53
Belfast is the third most violent city in the UK, according to a new report.
The city finished behind Glasgow and London in hte study published in the UK Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which defines peace as the absence of violence or fear of violence.
The most peaceful region in the UK was South East England and the least peaceful Greater London followed by Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The report said that overall, the UK has seen a "substantial and sustained" fall in violent crime over the last decade.
The murder rate has halved since 2003, from 1.99 per 100,000 people to one per 100,000 with the violent crime rate falling from 1,255 to 933 per 100,000 people, according to a new "peace index."
Broadland, in Norfolk, was the most peaceful area at local authority level, followed by Three Rivers in Hertfordshire, South Cambridgeshire, East Dorset and Maldon in Essex.
Inner London boroughs were the least peaceful - headed by Lewisham and followed by Lambeth, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets.
"Both crime and homicide have fallen significantly," the report said.
"The fall over the last decade has resulted in the UK homicide rate now being roughly equivalent to that of the Western European average, and it is now at its lowest level since 1978.
"However, the UK violent crime rate is significantly higher than the European Union average."
Despite the global financial crisis, violence has continued to fall in both the UK and Europe even during the recession, the report said.
In the UK, the only major offence category to substantially increase over the last decade was drug offences, it found.
All other categories of crime, including burglary and fraud, have fallen.
But it said public perceptions of the threat of violence are inflated, with 17% of Britons thinking they will be a victim of violent crime, while less than 4% will actually experience violent crime.
The downward trend in violence could be explained by a range of factors including changes in police practices and technological improvements, an ageing population, a fall in alcohol consumption and the introduction of the minimum wage, the report said.
Of the 343 local authorities covered in the index, 278 are now more peaceful than they were in 2003, it found.
The authors estimated that violence cost the UK £124 billion last year, equivalent to £4,700 per household or 7.7% of GDP.
A 9% reduction in violence would be equivalent to the total cost of the London Olympics, they said.
Poverty, employment opportunities, education, access to services, and inequality are "closely related" to peace in both the UK and the US, it concluded.