Yesterday’s preliminary FBI compilation that reported crime was down last year is “a mixed bag in terms of what these trends really indicate,” criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University writes for the Boston Globe website. “Year-to-year changes are notoriously volatile, especially for lesser volume crimes like murder. They must be viewed with caution, avoiding the temptation to make too much out of rather little,” he says.
Fox notes that the crime-report compilation for the first half of 2011 showed much larger percentage decreases in both violent and property crime. “Apparently, the second half of 2011 wasn't so terrific,” he says. “Whatever the final data show, it would seem that the long-term downturn in crime has slowed, and may even have bottomed out,” Fox says, adding, “Crime can't go down forever, of course. At this juncture, we need to focus on making sure that any increase that does occur is relatively modest.”