Amsterdam most murderous big city in Western Europe

06 December 2012, by

Among the most populous cities of countries in Western Europe, Amsterdam has the highest murder rate, according to newly released figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported by the Guardian.

The UNODC data indicate murder rates from 2009 in the most populous cities in 65 countries, and define "murder" as "unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person."

Among Western European countries, Amsterdam leads the list with 4,4 murders per 100.000 people, followed by Glasgow (3,3 per 100.000), and Brussels (3 per 100.000). However, Europe's most murderous cities are in the East, with Tallinn ranking highest (7,3 per 100.000), followed by Minsk (5,7 per 100.000) and Chisinau (5,5 per 100.000).

Of the cities included in the UNODC data, the murder rates of those in Central America are by far the highest, and 12 of the 13 highest murder rates occur in cities in Central and South America. Caracas tops the list with a murder rate of 122 per 100.000, with Guatemala City following closely thereafter (118,3 per 100.000).

Men are much more likely to be murdered in nearly every country studied. For example, in Venezuela, Mali, and Libya over 90% of victims are men. Women are only at a significantly higher risk of murder in two countries: Nauru (80% female victims) and Malta (75%).

amsterdam murder
Photo by Flickr user Sebastian Anthony

On the other hand, the cities with the lowest murder rates were Lisbon (0,2 per 100.000), Ljubljana (0,4 per 100.000), and Tokyo (0,4 per 100.000).

You can take a closer look at UNODC homicide statistics here.

Note that according to data over the last 5 years from Statistics Netherlands, Amsterdam is the Dutch city with the highest murder rate, followed by Rotterdam and The Hague. The murder rate in these three cities together is three times the national average.

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Comments arranged by date (Total 6 comments)  
December 08 2012, 08:04PM

This comes as a surprise to me, I feel safe in Amsterdam day and night.

December 08 2012, 08:38PM

I do as well. The murder rate in Amsterdam still isn't all that high. Also, I don't know about the distribution of murder rates within the different areas of Amsterdam, but if you take a look at that Statistics Netherlands data, you'll see that men from a non-Western background are about 6 times more likely to be murdered in the Netherlands than native Dutch men. Presumably rates are higher in some areas than others and is more likely to occur within certain social circles than others.

December 13 2012, 01:14PM

Heya. I've dug into these kind of data myself in the past, mostly because I was interested in whether you were more likely to get murdered or killed while riding your bike in Amsterdam (answer:murdered). But honestly I think this story is misleading at best. Because the numbers are so small to begin with, they're easily distorted. By way of illustration, the 2009 data included the murders of 5 Albanian men and a few "family dramas" as they're euphemistically known in the Dutch press. Amsterdam's murder rate fell by more than 50 percent in the following year. Looking at the national data will give you a very homogonous picture, across Western and Northern Europe, but even then, your own gut feeling is probably a better indicator. Consider: Norway's numbers aren't going to look great in 2011, but I'd still take my chances in Oslo than in London or Glasgow on any given Saturday night.

December 16 2012, 11:23AM

Fantastically misleading article. I think it's pretty irresponsible and lazy journalism to present such an article without clearly even reading other articles about it on your own site. If you'd bothered to read this: you would know very well "Amsterdam's spike in murder-rates does not represent a national, or permanent trend. The total number of murders in Amsterdam in 2009 was 29, this has fallen to 16 in 2011." but then you wouldn't have your shock headline, would you now? Poor show.

December 16 2012, 03:17PM

Hi Joe! I appreciate your skepticism, but to be fair I didn't say anything to suggest that murder rates were rising, and I don't think the content of this article contradicts anything from the other article. It would of course be nice to know how Amsterdam stacks up with other cities now, but data from 2011 weren't available for all the cities in the UNODC report. Anyway, I guess we can all take comfort in the fact that murder rates in Europe in general are still quite low, ha. Thanks for your comment.

December 27 2012, 01:03PM

I agree with the people who wrote they feel safe.
I am Portuguese and I strongly feel that being robbed in Lisbon is so much easier than be murdered in Amsterdam (Well of course they are different things). Although Lisbon has such a low "pretty" murder rate I feel so much more unsafe there than here.

About the Author
Carly Blair

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