Last year we ranked the top 10 most dangerous counties across England. This year, with a 13 percent increase in overall recorded crime since then, we’ve decided to do it all over again.
According to the latest police crime figures for England and Wales, there was a 13 percent increase in all recorded criminal offences (excluding fraud) in the last year. But where are you most likely to fall victim to crime?
We’ve analysed the police recorded crime figures from the Home Office for the year ending March 2018 (released July 2018) to reveal the areas where residents are most at risk of becoming a victim.
Victim-based crime is made up of five categories including violence against the person, sexual offences, robbery, theft offences, along with criminal damage and arson.
Rather than rank areas based on the total number of crimes alone, this year we’ve compared the number of crimes to the population in 43 policing areas across England and Wales and ranked them based on the number of offences committed per 1,000 people.
We’ve updated this article. For the latest stats, please see our 2019 update.
The Lancashire Police covers a population of 1,449,300 and an area around 2,000 square miles. Eighty percent of Lancashire is classed as rural, but the North-West county has significant geographical diversity: while Ribble Valley is continually highlighted as a top place to live in the UK, community safety problems are still a significant issue in more deprived areas in Blackburn, Darwen, Burnley, Preston and the famous seaside town of Blackpool.
The latest full-year figures show that violence against the person increased by 35 percent to 41,408 crimes in Lancashire, driven by a 40 percent increase in violence without injury (10.3), which is much higher than the England and Wales average.
The county had the joint highest rate of violence with injury along with West Yorkshire at 11.6 crimes per 1,000.
The largest area in terms of population size, the Metropolitan Police serves more than eight million people and covers 620 square miles. The area policed by the Met (Metropolitan Police District), consists of 32 boroughs within Greater London, excluding the City of London. City of London covers just over a square mile and serves 7,200 people.
Surprisingly, London only appears ninth overall on the list but it does have the highest rate of robbery offences, with 3.7 per 1,000. This is perhaps expected with the recent spate of moped crime and the Met facing more than 20,000 motorised robberies annually. The capital also has the second highest rate of theft offences (46.2).
Unsurprisingly, London also has the highest rate of knife crime, with 14,721 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument recorded in the last year equalling 1.68 per 1,000 population.
Perhaps most surprising is that London’s total rate of violence against the person, which includes homicide, violence with and without injury, stalking/harassment and death or serious injury -unlawful driving, places it at only 18th overall for violence.
Despite a 49 percent increase in homicide (murder, manslaughter and infanticide), London doesn’t have the highest rate in England and Wales when population is taken into account, even with the 13 victims of the London Bridge/Borough Market and Westminster attacks included in the figures: it has the fifth highest rate for homicide, following North Wales, Greater Manchester (both including and excluding the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing), Merseyside and even Warwickshire.
Meanwhile, London had the lowest rate of criminal damage and arson offences.
Humberside Police serves 928,500 people in the North East and covers a diverse area of around 2,185 square mile including the East Riding of Yorkshire, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and the region’s largest city and commercial centre, Kingston upon Hull, which was named as UK City of Culture in 2017.
Although overall for violent crimes it was ninth (27.1), the area has the second highest rate of violence with injury (10.8).
It also saw an 11 percent increase in the number of theft offences, which is above the national increase of seven percent. Almost half of Humberside’s increase in this category was influenced by a surge in the number of shoplifting offences, which has gone up by 21 percent.
Durham Constabulary is the force responsible for policing County Durham and Darlington, covering an area of around 1,386 square miles and serving 628,100 people. It covers the historic cathedral city of Durham, which is home to one of the world’s leading universities, along with the larger market town of Darlington.
Durham has the second highest rate of criminal damage and arson offences, with 16.2 per 1,000 people.
While the robbery rate was low and theft rate around average, Durham had the joint third violent crime rate with Greater Manchester, with 33.9 offences per 1,000 population.
It also had the fifth highest rate of sexual offences, with 3.2 crimes per 1,000, a 50 percent increase compared to the previous year.
Kent Police covers an area of 1,443 square miles in the South East with a population of 1,817,400. Kent is famous for the White Cliffs of Dover and home to one of the most visited places in the country, Canterbury Cathedral, as well as being known as the ‘Garden of England’ due to its numerous orchards and hop gardens.
However, the home county was revealed to have the highest rate of violence against the person in the latest full-year crime figures, with 36.4 recorded offences for 1,000 people.
Kent has also seen the biggest increase in total recorded crime (excluding fraud) with 35 percent more than the previous year, with 49 percent more violent crimes and 58 percent more sexual offences.
Serving a population of just under 1.5 million people, Northumbria Police covers an area of more than 2,000 square miles in the North East of England, covering Northumberland and Tyne and Wear and including the major cities of Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland.
The North East proved to be a hotspot for criminal damage and arson: Northumbria had the third highest rate of 16.0 per 1,000 residents, beaten only by neighbouring Cleveland and Durham.
It was also in the top five for violence against the person (30.6) and top six for sexual offences (3.1).
South Yorkshire Police covers an area of approximately 600 square miles including Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, and a population of just 1.4 million people. Built on the mining and steel manufacturing, the area is steeped in industrial heritage.
South Yorkshire ranked eighth for violent crimes and joint sixth for criminal damage and arson with neighbouring West Yorkshire.
It was also in the top five for all theft offence, with a particular focus on residential burglary.
Situated in the North East of England covering the districts of Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Middlesbrough, Cleveland is the smallest territorial police area (excluding City of London) covering 370 square miles, and the fifth smallest in terms of population with 564,600.
While the rate of violence and robbery in Cleveland were not on the higher scale, people in Cleveland are most likely to fall victim to thieves (46.6), and the area also has the nation’s highest rate of shoplifting, with 14.6 offences for 1,000.
It is also the hotspot for criminal damage and arson offences (16.9).
Third biggest in terms of population size, Greater Manchester Police serves more than 2.7 million people and covers an area of 500 square miles. The Greater Manchester Built-up area is the second most populated urban area following London.
Greater Manchester had the highest rate of total recorded crime excluding fraud (122.3), which includes victim-based crimes and other crimes against society such as drug offences and possession of offensive weapons.
Manchester’s robbery rate is particularly high at 2.5 per 1,000 population, beaten only by London and the West Midlands. Along with London, Manchester has also seen a surge in moped-related crime over the last three years, according to Manchester Evening News.
Meanwhile, it ranked fourth for sexual offences and fifth for criminal damage and arson.
Visiting Manchester? See our top safety tips for tourists for advice on how to stay safe in the city.
West Yorkshire Police serves approximately 2.2 million people living in one of the five metropolitan districts of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. The physical area covers 780 square miles, combining busy cities and towns with quiet villages and picturesque rural locations.
The area’s rate of violence was second only to Kent, with 35.7 violent crimes per 1,000.
Residents of West Yorkshire are the third most likely to be victims of both sexual offences (3.5) and theft offences (44.9).
While it doesn’t have the highest crime rate in any of the specific victim-based crime categories, together the figures paint a picture of West Yorkshire as one of the most dangerous areas of England and Wales.
The region which presented the most variation was Yorkshire and the Humber, with figures showing you’re more than twice as likely to be a victim of crime if you live in West Yorkshire, the most dangerous area, than in North Yorkshire, which is the second safest.
Meanwhile, the overall safest area was Dyfes-Powys, which is also the largest police area covering a land mass of over half of Wales, with only 42.7 victim-based crimes per 1,000 people.
Elsewhere in the country, however, North Wales had the highest rate of sexual offences and homicides, with 4.7 and 0.32 crimes per 1,000 population respectively, but these high-harm, low-rate crimes are not reflected in the overall figures.
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