New Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data shows that violent crimes decreased for the fifth straight year in the United States, nearing an all-time low that has not been seen in decades.
According to the report the violent crime rate fell by 4% while murders were down 1.9% and rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults declined by 4%. Also in decline were property crimes such as burglary which fell by an even larger 8%. Property crime rates have fallen for nine consecutive years.
Increasing in severity however were murders in small towns which were up by 18%. The report considered small towns to be any area with a population under 10,000 people.
The economic downturn may actually have been a good thing in terms of violent crime rates. According to MSNBC an economic downturn has the tendency to bring communities together in the face of difficult times, creating a better sense of community and self-policing. The report also found that better policing in general, an older population and other factors may have also played a part.
An increase in the number of immigrants in the United States is also likely leading to lower violent crime rates. According to University of Maryland criminology professor:
“We also have a record number of immigrants, and, contrary to popular belief, immigrants have lower crime rates than the rest of society,”
The FBI did notice a slight uptick in the number of violent crimes committed towards the end of 2011 and they are warning officials to stay vigilant in their efforts to help decrease those numbers once again.