What is happening to crime? Are things getting better or worse, and in what ways? ‘Understanding recent trends in crime’ examines recorded crime trends and data from victimization surveys from America, Canada, England and Wales, and Australia. All four Western democracies display similar patterns: rising crime in the post-war years, hitting a peak somewhere between the late 1980s and late 1990s, then falling steeply for the fifteen‒twenty-five years since. This leaves two big questions: why did crime increase in the early decades after the Second World War; and, why has it been declining in the past fifteen‒twenty-five years? The reasons for the post-war crime explosion are discussed.