It seems that everything negative is on the rise (divorces, certain illnesses, poverty, etc). I think the reasons vary depending on the region or country. In some cases it may be related to economic devastation. For instance, look at what has happened to Detroit; a once booming and thriving American city is now plagued with many overwhelming issues.
I have to agree that the answer is different for different areas of the world. Most of the time, areas with high crime rates tend to be ones which are struggling financially. People in tough situations tend to try to find ways to survive--and sometimes that means breaking the law.
I would have to agree with e-matrin though. One needs to know what kinds of crimes are being referred to.
I wonder where the idea that crime is increasing comes from. Over the last several years, I've read and heard numerous reports that violent crime is on the decline worldwide. The percentage of deaths by violence is down from what it was two hundred or two thousand years ago.
Crime may not be increasing at all.
I think differently. While there may be a perception of a shortage of police officers, we are more subject to state control than at any point in our history, and better records are kept of our transgressions. To the extent crime rates are rising (I read an article the other day that actually showed they have not really risen during the Great Recession) I think it is probably that more things are against the law, and there is a more powerful state apparatus there to catch people who do break laws.
Given how much state and local governments must cut back these days, I wonder if there is insufficient law enforcement that makes criminals perceive they are less likely to get caught. Another issue involving these cutbacks is prison overcrowding. Many prisoners are released far earlier these days, particularly those who have not committed violent crimes. The implication here is that a criminal is likely to have to serve far less time today, thus making crime a more appealing endeavor, particularly if it is non-violent crime.
Economic problems in the United States have caused some people to turn to crime in order to make ends meet. The rise of teen gang activity and electronic criminal offenses are other reasons for escalating crime rates.
One reason crime is increasing in many areas in the United States is the economic recession. This results in budget cuts for cities, especially local police forces. As they cut cops, there are fewer on the streets and they can only focus on the most violent crime. In the city where my parents live, they barely even investigate homicides anymore because there are so many.
Another problem with a bad economy is more desperate people. People are more brazen about stealing, and more people are turning to a life of crime out of desperation.
The answer to this is surely different in different countries. Generally, however, it would be caused by social change and/or economic problems. So, for example, a developing country in which many people are moving from rural areas to urban areas might experience such problems. There would be more poor people in cities without the kinds of social controls (having everyone know you and your family, etc) that exist in rural areas. These things can help cause more crime.
As others have stated, it may not be a significant increase in actual crime but information about crime has increase dramatically. I now hear about crime in China regularly and not long ago you heard NOTHING about China even if you were in China.
Crimes increase, and revealing these crimes on the rise.