Some states in the world are perceived as having very violent policing; while others are considered repressive generally, but not necessarily via the police being violent .

I was wondering if there is some comparative data / indexation of police violence overall, or aspects of police violence, for many/most/all world states - something parallel to the "press freedom index" published by Rapporteurs Sans Frontières.

I suppose relevant aspects would be, for example:

  • Killings by police per capita-annum.
  • Detainments per capita-annum.
  • Arrests per capita-annum.
  • Police officers carrying firearms regularly per capita.
  • Extent of use of riot control measures per capita-annum.
  • Media-reported cases of police abuse per capita-annum in various categories.

and maybe other measures, or qualitative evaluations. Of course, some of the above might be problematic, in the sense that in a society with more crime, you may have more arrests without this being an indicator of police violence.

  • 1
    The bullet "media-reported" is likely to be fairly inaccurate, especially in some countries. Some countries are known to wildly under report. Some news media in some countries have been known to over report certain types of crime.
    – puppetsock
    May 13, 2021 at 15:19
  • Please remove the reference specifically referred to China in the sense that you are interested in tilting the table without considering - civilian gun/firearm ownership per capita, and penality for injuring/killing a force enforcement agent. Any conclusion drawn here can be used as biased propaganda for the groups with special interests.
    – r13
    May 13, 2021 at 17:46
  • @r13: I dropped the example state names. But I didn't quite get the rest of what your comment is saying.
    – einpoklum
    May 13, 2021 at 20:39
  • 1) In the US, police have to resort to guns to prevent been shut by criminals and even non-violent offenders. 2) If one's to be jailed for life or facing the death penalty due to injuring/killing police, then the police is less likely need to face hard criminals, fight to arrest the violent offenders, and worried about own life. 3) Lastly, the size effect. How a 150 lbs policeperson is expected to arrest a 250 lbs muscular person peacefully when the person is fighting back fiercely? The person can be on drugs or drunk and possess danger to others.
    – r13
    May 13, 2021 at 22:10
  • I suggested dropping China since it does not allow gun ownership, and as a deterrent, the punishment against crime is harsh out there. Other than the US, the people's size does not seem to differ that drastically, not to mention the drug effect. A statistics, without taking all these issues into account, is merely a meaningless number, as well as the conclusion drawn from it .
    – r13
    May 13, 2021 at 22:27

1 Answer 1


Some of the measures you propose are helpful, others are not. In particular, the number of armed police officers is much less relevant than the number of killings (lawful and unlawful). Wikipedia has a list which is labeled incomplete, but it might be taken as a lower bound.

  • Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland have a 0 entry. Given their reputation, I would trust the statistics.
  • The UK gets 0.3 per 10 million per year, Germany has 1.3, France has 3.8. The absolute numbers are still low enough that I would expect significant variations from year to year. For instance, Luxembourg made it to 16.9 on the basis of a single listed case.
  • Scrolling further down the list, the United States gets a 34.8 per 10 million per year, Iran gets 36.6. In both cases I'm somewhat sceptical, for the US because of a lack of centralized reporting and for Iran because of a lack of freedom of the press (also see the note in the table).
  • Many countries are entirely missing from the list. I'm sure North Korea should be quite high. Syria is listed but I don't believe those numbers.

There are some statistics on detention, but I don't find them particularly useful for the goal of your question. Detentions can be conducted without violence, and numbers might simply represent different legal traditions regarding pre-trial bail, etc. Again Wikipedia has a list.

  • San Marino is listed as 60 per million, from a total of 2. In Monaco, 8 inmates produce a rate of 210 per million. I think those totals are too low for meaningful comparison ...
  • The United States is listed as 6,390 per million, for a total of 2,094,000. China is listed as 1,210 per million, for a total of 1,710,000. I don't trust either number, in the US because of decentralized reporting and in China because of the exclusion of certain categories.
  • In between, Germany gets 690 per million, France gets 930 per million, Canada gets 1,040 per million. I'm not sure if those numbers would signify a difference in police brutality.

Riot control also ranges from an order to disperse over a speaker to the fire of metal-cored rubber bullets or even live bullets. Raw numbers are not really helpful here.

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