DUBLIN'S murder rate is one of the lowest in the world, a new league table of crime rates has shown.The capital was in the bottom five of a survey of 29 European and North American cities, with just 1.9 cases of murder, infanticide or manslaughter per 100,000 inhabitants.
The figures show that despite hyped public fears Dublin is one of the safest cities in the world, a garda spokesperson said.
However, Dublin still figures disproportionately in the national homicide rate, with two-thirds of all murders so far this year occurring in the capital, the latest garda figures show.
Sixteen of the 25 murders committed nationwide this year took place in Dublin, and despite a general reduction in crime particularly in violent crime the national murder rate is on course to equal last year's tally of 38.
Overall the Irish murder rate has risen sharply in the last 30 years, from an average of 30.3 each year in the 1970s, to 35.4 a year in the 1990s, the official figures show. Although the numbers declined to 29.2 a year in the 1980s the underlying trend has been up because the 1970s statistics are skewed by the high number of fatalities in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974.
The new survey released yesterday by the British Home Office shows that Belfast is the most dangerous city in the UK with a homicide rate of 4.4 per 100,000.
The safest city in Europe is Brussels with a homicide rate of 0.4 per 100,000 people and Vienna (1.8), Rome (1.7) and Athens (1.4) also had low rates.
The murder rate in London was also relatively low at 2.1 per 100,000, it was well below the figures for Amsterdam (7.7), Lisbon (9.7) and, surprisingly, Helsinki at 12.5.
The European capital with the worst record was Moscow with 18.1 homicides per 100,000 but this was put in the shade by Washington DC's staggering rate of 69.2, 36 times higher than the Dublin figure.
American cities are still far and away the most dangerous, although there is a massive gap between Washington DC and second placed Philadelphia at 27.4.
The nine North American cities included all figured in the top 12 positions in the survey. Despite its much vaunted ``zero tolerance'' policy, New York still has a high rate with 16.8 murders per 100,000 residents.
Results for other cities in the survey were: Dallas 24.8, Los Angeles 22.8, Chicago 20.5, Phoenix 19.1, Houston 18, New York City 16.8, Geneva 4.2, Copenhagen 4, Berlin 3.8, Paris 3.3, Stockholm 3, Prague 2.9, Budapest 2.8, Edinburgh 2.4, and Oslo 2.1.
Sara Jones, a spokeswoman for the British Home Office, said the survey compared cases over a two-year period. For some countries, the data was taken from 1994 to 1996; others used data from 1995 to 1997. Britain decided to compile the information to see how British cities ranked.
``These were figures we had available and it made sense to put them together,'' she said.