Unfortunately, over the last year, crime in London has been a regular feature in the news. Knife crime, county lines drug trafficking, moped muggings and acid attacks have all made the headlines at various points throughout 2019.
Sadly, the number of teenagers killed as a result of knife crime hit an 11-year high in 2019 – with 23 teenage fatalities so far this year.
Many of these deaths are thought to be gang related. Indeed the National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that over 1,000 branded county lines are operating at any one time – with each of these generating around £800,000 annually.
Reading statistics such as these may make you ask: how dangerous a place is London to live in or visit?
It’s worth remembering that, in global terms, London remains an incredibly safe city. In fact, the according to the Economist’s Safe Cities Index, London is the fourteenth safest city in the world.
That said, 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 look at which parts of London are the most dangerous.
To do this, we have analysed the latest crime stats from the Metropolitan Police (for the year November 2018—October 2019). Unlike previous years, we’ve ranked the most dangerous boroughs in terms of the crime rate per 1,000 people (instead of total number of crimes committed).
Famous for its maritime history, Greenwich is southeast London Borough. Covering an area of around 18 square miles, Greenwich has a population of around 286,000 and is home to The O2, Greenwich Observatory, Charlton Athletic and was one of the six host boroughs of the 2012 Olympics. However, with a total of 28,501 crimes occurring in the borough last year, Greenwich is the tenth most dangerous in London.
The geographic centre of London, Lambeth is a South London borough and a constituent part of Inner London. With a variety of hotels, pubs and clubs lining the South Bank, Lambeth boasts lively nightlife and is home to a varied mix of cultures. Lambeth also contains the four Waterloo Churches, the Brixton murals and the National Theatre. That said, with a total of 35,961 crimes committed last year, Lambeth is London’s ninth most dangerous borough – with a crime rate per 1,000 of 107.7.
Tower Hamlets is an East London borough which was created when the former boroughs of Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green were merged in 1965. The borough contains 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. Last year, 34,785 crimes were committed in Tower Hamlets, making it the eighth most dangerous borough in London – with a crime rate per 1,000 of 110.
Haringey is a North London borough that sits between Inner London and Outer London. The borough’s landmarks include Alexandra Palace, Bruce Castle, Jacksons Lane and the Tottenham Hotspur football club. Due to its location and landmarks, the borough is a popular destination with locals and tourists alike. However, with a total of 32,300 crimes committed in the area last year (giving Haringey a crime rate per 1,000 of 113.2), the borough is the seventh most dangerous in London.
Hackney is an area of Inner London which covers parts of East London and North London. Popular with millennials, Hackney was one of the boroughs which played host to the 2012 Olympics and is known for its abundant green spaces and recent gentrification. Hackney is home to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Hoxton and Petticoat Lane markets as well as the famous Hackney Empire theatre. With a total of 34,364 crimes (giving it a crime rate per 1,000 of 122.3) taking place in the area, Hackney is also London’s sixth most dangerous borough.
Islington covers an area of just 5.74 square miles – making it the second smallest borough in London. As a well-developed and affluent borough, Islington’s relatively high crime rate may come as a surprise. However, its wealth is perhaps part of the problem. Criminals often target apparently affluent areas because they believe they will receive a higher payoff for their crimes. With a total of 29,839 crimes committed last year, Islington has a crime rate per 1,000 of 125.6 – making it the fifth most dangerous in London.
Hammersmith and Fulham is located partly in West London and partly in Southwest London. The area is known for the fact that it houses three professional football clubs: Chelsea, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers. Covering just 6.33 square miles, Hammersmith and Fulham is a relatively small borough. However, it has a population of 185,426 – giving it a high population density. With 23,721 crimes committed in the borough last year (giving it a crime rate per 1,000 of 129.2), Hammersmith and Fulham is the fourth most dangerous area of London.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the smallest borough in London. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the United Kingdom. Located immediately to the west of the City of Westminster, the borough contains several major museums and universities – as well as famous department stores Harrods, Peter Jones and Harvey Nichols. With a total of 24,436 crimes committed in the borough last year, Kensington and Chelsea has a crime rate per 1,000 of 153.9 – making it the third most dangerous borough in London.
A Northwest London borough, Camden has a population of over 220,000 and contains many of London’s famous attractions. These include Camden Market, the catacombs of London, the Sir John Soane’s Museum, London Zoo, Dickens House, Electric Ballroom and the Welcome Collection. However, Camden is also London’s second most dangerous borough. With a total of 38,952 crimes committed last year, the borough has a crime rate per 1,000 people of 154.2).
Westminster has topped the list for the last three years in a row – and 2020 is no different. Quintessentially 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 – and lots of them. Unfortunately, tourists are frequently targeted by thieves and pickpockets, and the majority of the crimes committed in Westminster last year were incidents of theft. For tourists, the tiny borough of Westminster is particularly dangerous.
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