Crime in London was a major talking point throughout 2018. Last year, the primary focus was knife crime – which rose to its highest level ever! Horrendous knife attacks made the headlines all-too-frequently, and nearly 15,000 attacks took place between June 2017 and May 2018.
Along with knife crime, rising levels of moped-enabled robberies also received a lot of media attention. Indeed, from June 2017 to May 2018, scooter-, moped- and motorcycle-enabled crimes rose more than 50 percent.
With so much bad press, you may be wondering how dangerous London is to visit or live in.
In general, London is a very safe city (and is currently ranked at position 20 in the Economist’s Safe Cities Index). That said, the total number of crimes rose from 777,458 to 827,225 last year – a increase of 6.4 percent. And this means, for those visiting London, it’s a good idea to be prepared. Check out our London tourist tips for more information.
Like all cities, some areas of London are more dangerous than others. In this article, we will look at which parts of London are the most dangerous. As with last year’s article, we ranked London’s 33 boroughs in terms of the total number of crimes committed and use the latest figures available from the MET (from November 2017 to November 2018) to compile our list.
For the latest stats, please see our 2020 update.
The London Borough of Hackney is an area of Inner London which spans parts of East London and North London. Popular with millennials, Hackney played host to the 2012 Olympics and is known for its abundant green spaces and relatively recent gentrification. Hackney is also home to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Hoxton and Petticoat Lane markets and the famous Hackney Empire theatre. However, with a total of 33,381 crimes taking place in the area, Hackney is also London’s tenth most dangerous borough.
Croydon is a South London borough located just over nine miles from Charing Cross. One of the largest commercial areas outside of Central London, Croydon boasts a lively shopping district and a bustling night-time economy. However, the area also has a problem with crime – in particular, violent crime. In fact, in 2018 Croydon was ranked one of the worst parts of London in terms of knife crime. With a total of 33,410 (including 11,771 violence against the person) crimes, Croydon is London’s ninth most dangerous borough.
Brent is an Outer London borough located in the north west of the city centre. Home to Wembley Stadium, Wembley Arena and the Neasden Temple, Brent, previously an under-the-radar area, has been crowned The Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2020. That said, the area is also one of London’s most dangerous. A new addition to the top 10 most dangerous boroughs list, last year 33,446 were committed in Brent – with 11,374 violence against the person offences.
Haringey is a North London borough that sits between Inner London and Outer London (with different people classifying it as belonging to either or both). With landmarks such as Alexandra Palace, Bruce Castle, Jacksons Lane and the Tottenham Hotspur football club located in the borough, it is a popular destination with locals and tourists alike. But Haringey also has high levels of youth crime, which no doubt played a role in the fact that the borough saw a total of 33,476 crimes committed last year.
Tower Hamlets is an East London borough that was created when the former boroughs of Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green were merged in 1965. Containing much of the re-developed docklands area – including Canary Wharf, West India Docks and the Isle of Dogs – Tower Hamlets is home to many of the tallest buildings in London. But the area has the highest ratio of knife crimes per population of all the Eastlondonlines boroughs. In total, 35,829 crimes were committed in the area last year.
The geographic centre of London, Lambeth is a South London borough which forms part of Inner London. With hotels, pubs and clubs lining the South Bank, Lambeth is home to a lively night scene and a huge mix of cultures. Lambeth also contains the four Waterloo Churches, the Brixton murals and the National Theatre. Though the MET do a fantastic job policing the area, 37,976 crimes were committed in Lambeth last year, with 11,640 violence against the person offences.
Neighbouring Lambeth, Southwark is a South London borough connected by bridges to the City of London. Known for housing The Shard, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Borough Market, Southwark is a popular tourist destination and attracts large numbers of visitors each year. But Southwark also has the second-highest rate of knife crime in London, and saw a total of 38,559 offences committed last year.
A borough in north west London, Camden has a population of over 220,000 and contains many of London’s most famous attractions. These include: Camden Market, the catacombs of London, the Sir John Soane’s Museum, London Zoo, Dickens House, Electric Ballroom and Welcome Collection. Unfortunately, Camden is also London’s third most dangerous borough with a total of 38,944 crimes committed last year – including 19,426 theft and handling crimes taking place last year alone.
Newham is located five miles east of the City of London and contains most of the Olympic Park (including the London Stadium). The borough contains a large number of places of interest, and is home to Queens Market, Green Street, Stratford Centre, Stratford Circus Arts Centre, Gallions Reach Shopping Park and Theatre Royal Stratford East. But, with 38,995 crimes committed in the area last year, Newham is London’s second most dangerous borough. The most common crime occurring in Newham is theft, though 11,710 violence against the person offences took place in the borough last year.
Westminster has topped the list for the last two years in a row – and 2019 continues that trend. Quintessential London, Westminster is home to most of the West End, St James’s Palace, Buckingham Palace, Oxford Street and Regent Street. And, given that the Houses of Parliament are also located there, its status as the most crime-ridden London borough may make some sense. However, since expense and cash for access scandals aren’t recorded in the Met’s figures, something else must be going on. That something is tourists – lots of them. Unfortunately, tourists are targeted by thieves and pickpockets, and the majority of the 66,438 crimes committed in Westminster last year were incidents of theft (37,315 of them, to be precise). For tourists, then, the tiny borough of Westminster – which is only 8.29 square miles – is particularly dangerous.
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