Urban violence worldwide is estimated to have doubled over the last two decades. Every five years, 60 per cent of the world's urban population becomes a victim of crime at least once.
The years 1989 and 1990 showed an alarming increase in homicide rates in almost all major cities in the USA. Nationwide in 1989, violent crimes increased by 5% and homicides by 4%, while in cities with populations over 1 million violent crime increased by 6% and homicides by 7% -- the steepest increases since 1985. The rise has been attributed to an increase in drug disputes and common use of deadly weapons. In 1990 the murder rate in New York was 10.7 per 100,000 (2,600 murders), whereas in Washington it was 77.8. According to another 1990 report, New York City police officials counted seven homicides in just over seven hours one day in December of that year. Labelled the "murder capital of America", Washington DC in 1993 had approximately one murder per day. Murders in key cities in the USA in 1992 were: New York, 1,995; Los Angeles, 1,094; Chicago, 939; Houston, 465; Washington DC, 443. An analysis of 1,200 homicides there between 1980 and 1990 showed that 92.9% of the victims were black, and 94.5 of those charged with their killings were black. Half the defendants were under 21.