Somewhat of an end of year ritual at Churchill Security, we’ve been reviewing and ranking the top 10 most dangerous boroughs of London since 2016. As we head into the last month of an otherwise unprecedented year, we’ve decided to stick with tradition and do it all over again.
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a year like no other. In the face of the novel virus, we’ve seen the country pull together to protect one another, help their communities and support the NHS and key workers who have kept the country going in these extraordinary times.
After peaking in 2019, the overall crime rate in London has fallen during 2020. This is most likely temporary, however and one of the few upsides to the national and regional lockdowns implemented across the city throughout the year. Indeed, a YouGov study found that 61% of Londoners expect crime to return to, or even exceed previous levels when restrictions end and normality returns.
With that being said, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the levels and types of crime committed across London in 2020. Indeed, whilst certain types of crime have seen a reduction due to coronavirus restrictions, others have skyrocketed– particularly domestic abuse, which sadly constituted roughly one-fifth of all offences reported between May-June.
So just how dangerous is London and what boroughs have the highest crime rate? Like all big cities, some parts of London are more dangerous than others. Whether you’re new to the city or just visiting, knowing which boroughs have the highest crime rates can help you keep safe, whilst you enjoy everything the capital has to offer.
To do this, we have analysed the latest crime stats from the Metropolitan Police (for the year (December 2019—October 2020) and ranked the most dangerous boroughs in terms of the crime rate per 1,000 people (instead of total number of crimes committed).
10) Lambeth- 86.69 crimes per 1000 (28,956 total)
The geographic centre of London, Lambeth is a South London borough and a constituent part of Inner London. It also contains some of the city’s most famous landmarks and popular attractions, including the London Eye, the Royal National Theatre and the Imperial War Museum. With a variety of hotels, pubs and clubs lining the South Bank, Lambeth is a popular destination for residents and tourists alike. Sadly, Lambeth also has the distinction of being the tenth most dangerous borough in London, particularly for violent crime and theft, which constitute 36% and 32% of all crimes committed in Lambeth respectively.
9) Tower Hamlets- 92.66 crimes per 1000 (29,309 total)
Located in East London, Tower Hamlets covers much of what was once the East End of London. The borough contains much of the re-developed docklands area – including Canary Wharf, now a central business district on London’s Isle of Dogs. A vibrant and diverse area, Tower Hamlets contains 25 of the tallest buildings in London, including the former tallest building in London, One Canada Square. With over 200,000 people living within eight square miles, the borough is densely populated– and has the nineth highest crime rate out of all the boroughs, particularly for theft and handling, which accounts for 33% of all crimes in Tower Hamlets.
8) Haringey- 92.80 crimes per 1000 (26,481 total)
Bridging the divide between Inner and Outer London, Haringey is located in North London and is a largely residential borough comprising of 22.5% green space, including Finsbury Park and Highgate Wood. Home to football club Tottenham Hotspurs and attractions such as Alexandra Place and Bruce Castle, Haringey is also a popular destination for tourist- and sadly, criminals looking to exploit this, with 92.80 crimes committed for every 1000 people. The most frequent crimes in this borough are theft and handling (37%), violent crimes (32%) and drugs offences (7%), so ensure your personal item are hidden away if you’re venturing into this area.
7) Southwark- 94.01 crimes per 1000 (30,218 total)
Situated in central London on the south bank of the River Thames, Southwark lies in the heart of the city and is connected to the City of London via several bridges including Tower Bridge and Southwark Bridge. Southwark is home to some of London’s most popular attractions, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Tate Modern and Borough Market, as well as London’s tallest Skyscraper, the Shard. Southwark is a popular tourist destination and attracts large numbers of visitors each year, but it also attracts criminals looking to exploit unwitting tourists, especially when it comes to theft and pickpocketing. Indeed, a whopping 11,245 instances of theft and handling where reported, with a further 2,393 burglaries committed across the borough in 2020.
6) Hammersmith and Fulham- 98.65 crimes per 1000 (18,109 total)
Hammersmith and Fulham is situated partly in West London and partly in Southwest London, forming part of Inner London. It’s perhaps best known for being home to three professional football clubs: Chelsea, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers. Covering a mere 6.33 square miles, Hammersmith and Fulham is a relatively small borough. Yet with a population of 185,143, it certainly has a high population density. Despite its small size, the crime rate in Hammersmith and Fulham is relatively high, with 98.65 crimes per 1000 people reported in 2020, including 7,244 instances of theft, 6,040 violent crimes and 1,400 burglaries.
5) Islington – 100.62 crimes per 1000 (23,910 total)
The second smallest borough in London, Islington covers an area of just 5.74 miles. Situated in Inner London, Islington is predominantly a residential area with a strong service sector. The borough of Islington is also home to two universities: London Metropolitan University and University of London, and its fair share of student accommodation. It also comes in fifth on our list of most dangerous boroughs for its high rate of theft and handling, which constitutes over 40% of all crime in Islington.
4) Hackney- 100.95 crimes per 1000 (28,363 total)
Hackney is located in inner London, covering part 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 green spaces and recent gentrification. Hackney is also home to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Hoxton and Petticoat Lane markets as well as the famous Hackney Empire theatre, making it popular with tourists and residents alike. Despite the recent developments in the borough, it still has one of the highest crime rates in London, with a total of 28,363 crimes reported in 2020, 32% of which were violence against a person.
3) Kensington and Chelsea- 109.01 crimes per 1000 (17,303 total)
As a well-to-do, affluent borough, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s relatively high crime rate may come as a surprise to some. However, its wealth is perhaps part of the problem, as it makes the area particularly attractive to criminals. Despite being the smallest borough in London, with a population of 156,197, it’s one of the most densely populated administrative regions in the United Kingdom. It also has the third highest crime rate in London. Over half of all crimes committed in Kensington and Chelsea are theft and burglary, so if you’re lucky enough to live in this borough, make sure you have the right security in place.
2) Camden- 112.51 crime per 1000 (28,423 total)
Situated in Inner London, this northwest London borough is a famous tourism hotspot thanks to fashionable street markets, music venues and strong associations with London’s thriving alternative culture. Some of the city’s most famous landmarks are located in Camden, including The British Museum, the London Zoo and Camden Market. Despite being popular with tourists, Camden also has a dense population of around 270,000 residents– and the second highest crime rate in London. With 28,423 crimes reported in 2020, including 13,065 thefts, 7,691 violent crimes and 2,179 burglaries, Camden easily ranks as the second most dangerous borough in London.
1) Westminster-195.78 crimes per 1000 (49,400 total)
Home to most of the West End, St James’s Palace, Buckingham Palace, Oxford Street and Regent Street, the borough of Westminster represents the heart of the city and all things quintessentially London, including some of Britain’s most iconic landmarks; the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abby and Buckingham Palace just to name a few. It also happens to be the most dangerous borough of London– for the 4th year running. A popular area for residents and tourists, Westminster is a densely populated borough interspersed with green spaces and parks. Unfortunately, tourists are frequently targeted by thieves and pickpockets, and the majority of the crimes (52%) committed in Westminster last year were incidents of theft. With an overall total of 49,400 crimes reported in 2020, or 195.78 crimes per 1000 people, Westminster is the clear frontrunner on our list of the most dangerous boroughs in London.
So that was our ranking for 2021. Whether you’re living in London or planning to visit, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you stay safe in the city here. Overall, it’s worth remembering that in global terms, London remains an incredibly safe city. In fact, according to the Economist’s Safe Cities Index 2019, London is the fourteenth safest city in the world. Just keep aware of your surroundings and try not to look too much like a tourist!
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