Murder, murder, murder in the UK, real and imagined

The number of murders on British television murder shows is to die for, if you are the sort that lives for that variety of entertainment. This study takes a narrow, sharp plunge into the relevant facts:

Misrepresentation of UK homicide characteristics in popular culture,” J. Brown, N.S. Hughes, M.C. McGlen, and J.H.M. Crichton, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, epub February 4, 2014.  The authors are at Royal Edinburgh Hospital, explain:

101-blue“The homicide statistics of a popular UK television fictional crime series and the former Lothian & Borders police force region, Scotland were compared…. 217 homicides were identified by 105 perpetrators in the television series ‘Midsomer Murders’ between 1997-2011; these were compared to 55 homicides by 53 perpetrators in the regional sample between 2006-2011. The numbers of serial killings (p< 0.0001), planned homicides, female perpetrators (p<0.0001), shootings (p=0.0456) and poisonings (p=0.0289) were higher in the fictional sample. Lothian & Borders cases were almost all single killings, mostly unplanned, with a far greater rate of homicide by kitchen knives ( p < 0.0001) and hitting/kicking (p = 0.0005) by intoxicated perpetrators.

“Control of access to pointed kitchen knives by members of certain groups may reduce homicide rates…. If most UK homicides are impulsive, with perpetrators grabbing a convenient weapon to hand, simply impeding the access to a lethal weapon may reduce absolute homicide rates – in the same way that the change away from domestic coal gas and the restriction of paracetamol purchases has had an effect on suicide rates.”

(Thanks to investigator Ivan Oransky for bringing this to our attention.)

Improbable Research