Crime in Spain, brief overview

Several studies showed that crime in western societies fell from the mid-nineteenth century to World War II, and it increased from that date (Gurr et al., 1976; Killias & Riva, 1984). Later, while crime remains invariables for some years, it considerably increases in the mid-sixties. For instance, In France, criminal offences soared from 13 per thousand inhabitants in 1950 to 61 in 1998, being most of this growth concentrated between 1965 and 1982 (Geri, 2000) Equally, studies show an overall increasing trend up to date in France and other countries.

In the case of Spain, after the end of the civil war in 1939, the country experiences a process of criminalization and persecution of those defeated during the conflict, as well as their equalization of the status of common criminals (Gómez, 2009). Additionally, in the first post-war years there is a growth of property crimes due to scarcity and rationing and it slightly increases year after year until 1971, when the number of infractions comes close to hundred thousand (Hernando, 2016). The most common crimes during this stage are thefts, small scams (swindles) and robberies with force. Most common criminals make use of cunning and techniques based on deceit and ability, being infrequent crimes of a violent nature.

In the early 1970, Spain was in the last stage of the Franco Regime. The last years of the dictatorship were characterized, on the one hand, by the grating of greater degree of freedom to the people, and on the other, by greater political and economic instability: clamour for freedom and political tensions raised and 1973 marks the beginning of an economic downturn due to the oil crisis. It is precisely these years when crime in Spain experiences relevant changes: criminal offences alarmingly skyrocket and provoke an overall state of alert across the country, particularly in the most urbanized regions and between 1983 and 1987, one of the most problematic periods of the recent country. Potential for conflict arises in the streets and the number of offenses soared from 426,528 in 1982 to 762,113 in 1984. There is not an entire rupture with the previous period as long as the most common offense are still thefts and robbery (property crime represents approximately 87% of total offenses). Yet, there is an increase in personal crime, homicide and rapes and robberies with violence become the most relevant crime during these years. The factors of this quantitative evolution are, according to several autors, the greater incidence of narcotic consumption and traffic (Hernando, 2002). Indeed, the drug consumption infected many cities in Spain and the number of deaths from drug overdoses particularly increase during the eighties. Juvenile crime also arises and in 1982, the country registered double arrests of young boys than in 1979.

From the end of eighties up to 2008, the country experiences a gradual increase in the number of criminal infractions, coming close to 2.5 million or more than 50 per thousand inhabitants. In recent years, the country registers an overall decrease in crime, also coinciding with the economic crisis suffered by many western economies since 2008.

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