By Stig Thorstein reporting from The Cotswolds, England
So you thought that a quaint English village might be the right place to wile away a couple of tranquil weeks, or even spend a peaceful retirement? Think again! Crime statistics show that it is quieter and safer to live in the world’s most crime-ridden cities than rural English hamlets. The sleepy Cotswolds town of Chipping Sodbury had a rate of violent crime over 1000/100K inhabitants in 2015. Compare that with Chicago which only experienced a rate of 884/100K for such crimes. The average annual murder rate in the most violent city in the world–Caracas, Venezuela–of 120/100K in 2015 compares very favorably with that of 2778 in the small village of Thorney Dyke, Cambridgeshire from 2013-2015.
Surprised? Why? Numerous TV shows and films have illustrated the dark underbelly of the UK countryside: The Midsomer Murders, Rosemary & Thyme, Inspector Morse, Poirot, Foyle’s War, Miss Marple, Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Luther and Prime Suspect to name but a few. Why do you think that so many series depict the murderous machinations of middle England? Did you really think that it was Miss Marple that precipitated carnage wherever she went? No – it’s the rural reality in the UK, where the residents of Edge Hill Warwickshire dream of a quieter life in South Central LA or the ghettos of Johannesburg.
Not everyone is losing out because of this spate of violence. Local landlords have been cashing-in and converting their pub’s traditional quiz night into a real life game of Clue (“Cluedo” as it’s known over here), where residents and curious outsiders come to solve the latest murder. With no shortage of heinous goings-on and an ample supporting cast of vicars, tea-room owners, yuppie out-of-towners, prim old ladies, bad-tempered farmers and well-heeled horse-owning types, these nights have been a roaring success. At the Old Rose and Crown in Bishop’s Thudbury where at least 3 people have been jailed as a result of the popular “Whodunnit Wednesdays” landlord Ken Shaftsman told me:
“It’s bloody great! I’m making more money than ever, I just hope we keep getting these murders”
I will leave England tomorrow but not before I’ve had a quick pint at my favorite local, The Case is Altered in Hatton, Warks, just to reassure myself that not all areas of the UK are murderous ghetto-villages.
[Note: Stig never made it back to Sweden; his case is currently one amongst many open police investigations in the Warwickshire constabulary, we send our sincere condolences to his family and all families whose loved ones are sent into the most lawless areas of this planet in the name of investigative journalism]