England and Wales Most Dangerous & Safest Towns & Cities

It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that some areas of the UK are safer than others.

Almost every person in the country will hold an opinion as to whether their local area is generally ‘safe’ or ‘dangerous’. Often, people will hold conflicting or inaccurate views as to why certain areas are safer or more dangerous than others, but most people will have an opinion on the subject.

But are any of these assertions borne from real, quantifiable data?

A person who rarely ventures outside after dark, for example, may consider their area to be largely ‘safe’, simply because they don’t see the crime levels first-hand. A security operative or police officer, however, may consider an area to be vastly more dangerous than it is for most people because they are regularly exposed to the worst aspects of living there.

In addition, certain media outlets (both locally and nationally) have a vested interest in pushing narratives relating to crime, violence, and anti-social behaviour that may encourage people to adopt an unrealistic view of their region’s crime rate and safety levels.

Since security operatives’ main and most prominent duty is the safety of the British public, we decided to go over police data relating to every area of the UK and use that data to scientifically determine which towns and cities are the safest, and which are the most dangerous.

To achieve this, we have looked up the statistics relating to various crimes, including anti-social behaviour (ASB), drug dealing and use, people carrying or using weapons, mugging and robbery, shoplifting, public order offences, general violence, and sexual assault. We then cross-referenced them with one another.

As a disclaimer, we will not be considering Scottish locations for our lists, because data relating to Scotland is usually compiled and listed separately, and, in some cases, comparable data to that of the rest of the UK cannot be sourced or cross-referenced. Northern Ireland has been included, however.

In addition, only large towns, cities, and London Boroughs have been included in our lists. While many of them are peaceful places to live, smaller towns, villages, and other areas in the UK can sometimes be very crime-ridden. However, we decided to reserve our focus for larger, more densely populated areas.

Table of Contents

Furthermore, we are only presenting data sourced online, not our own data. Consequently, we have, at times, encountered conflicting information from multiple sources, which we have attempted to reconcile as best we can. Sometimes, specific data was simply unavailable to us. Ultimately, it’s best to view this piece as ‘an informed opinion’ based on facts and available data, rather than anything more definite or all encompassing.

Finally, we are also aware that violent crime can occur anywhere and everywhere, and that even the place we designate as ‘the safest’ will not be entirely free from the dangers of anti-social behaviour and/or violent crime.

Security work is demanding and difficult, regardless of where the operatives are based. Security operatives based in the areas we’ve listed as ‘the safest’ do not necessarily have an easier time than those who work in the most dangerous areas.

Background Data

Before we begin in earnest, let’s look at some basic statistics and background data.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average crime rate in England and Wales is 8271 incidents for every 100,000 people. In the year ending July 2022, there were 4,933,093 incidents of crime, over 500,000 more than the previous year.

This increase in crime is an escalating trend. Indeed, between 2011 and 2021, incidents of crime increased by an average of 3.2% each year. However, between 2021 and 2022, incidents of crime made a considerable leap of 11.4%.

This may be due to the reduction of public concern relating to the Coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in more people leaving their homes and engaging in social and night-time activities. It may also be related to worsening economic conditions that can cause people to commit crimes of desperation. Crime rates could also be exacerbated by the lack of a significant police presence on many British streets. Frankly, we can’t say for sure.

What is borne out by the data, however, are the collective assertions of Britain’s security workforce. In 2021, we conducted the largest-ever study into violence against security workers. 36% of the front-line security operatives we talked to stated that they are being physically attacked each month, with over half stating that they are verbally abused every single time they work. Perhaps most damningly, 86% of the 1224 operatives we asked told us that violence on British streets was definitely increasing.

Returning to the ONS data, the most common type of crime in the UK is ‘violence without injury’, while the least common are ‘death by dangerous driving’ and ‘homicide’.

Using this data, we can better contextualise the following information to get a clearer picture of how safe, or unsafe, certain areas in Britain really are. 

The Best & Worst Areas for Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)

British law defines anti-social behaviour (ASB) as behaviour by a person which causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to persons not of the same household as the person”

For clarity’s sake, a person who issues threats to another person, giving them cause to believe that they will be physically harmed, is potentially as likely to be committing an act of common assault than they are ASB. This is because the legal definition of ASB is focussed less on threatening behaviour, and more upon inconsiderate behaviour.

Examples of ASB therefore include rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour, inappropriate use of a vehicle (i.e., for illegal racing), vandalism, property damage, acting as a nuisance neighbour, trespassing, littering, or dumping rubbish, and noise pollution, among others.

Considered in isolation, many of these actions may seem more like minor annoyances than serious crimes. However, if allowed to proliferate, ASB can be enormously destructive to a community and can cause, among other problems, rising crime rates, lack of pride in an area, fearful citizenry, and widespread economic damage (including lack of investment in the area, which affects almost every aspect of life in that area).

The 5 Safest for Anti-Social Behaviour

According to current data, the 5 safest areas as far as ASB is concerned are:

5th – Coventry – With 12.71 incidents per 1000 people, Coventry is certainly one of the areas of the country with the lowest levels of ASB.

4th Leicester – With 11.95 incidents per 1000 people, residents of the City of Leicester are marginally safer from ASB than their counterparts in Coventry.

3rd – Wolverhampton – The City of Wolverhampton averages 11.55 incidents of ASB per 1000 people, making it the 3rd safest city in the UK for ASB.

2nd – Milton Keynes – Only recently gaining city status, Milton Keynes almost leads the pack with only 10.74 incidents of ASB per 1000 people.

1st – Reading – Reading ultimately tops our list, with a rate of ASB incidents of 10.51 for every 1000 residents. The looming presence of Reading Gaol may have something to do with this!

The 5 Most Dangerous for Anti-Social Behaviour

5th – Middlesbrough – With 50.86 incidents of ASB per 1000 people, Middlesbrough is a city of people who are unfortunately very likely to encounter anti-social behaviour.

4th – Newcastle-Upon Tyne – For every 1000 people in Newcastle, there are 55.02 incidents of ASB, putting the city among the highest in the country.

3rd – Tower Hamlets – The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has a population of 310,000 people. For every 1000 of these, there will be 56.44 incidents of ASB.

2nd – Belfast City – The Northern Irish capital unfortunately experiences a very high level of ASB. For every 1000 people, there are 59.02 incidents reported.

1st – Westminster – As an affluent city with the second-least affordable private rent for low-earners in London (according to data from Trust for London and the New Policy Institute), Westminster features 60.37 incidents of ASB per 1000 people.

The good news is, that throughout the UK, ASB levels appear to be steadily decreasing. Following a rise in 2020 (which may have been partly due to people breaking lockdown rules), numbers are now closer to 2018 levels. This may be due to successful local programs and/or the increased deployment of City Centre Security Officers (CCSOs). Whatever the cause, it is certainly a positive trend, and one that we hope to see continue.

The Best & Worst Areas for Drug Misuse

The issue of illegal drug use in British society is a serious and complex one. Unfortunately, security operatives often find themselves responding to drug-related problems, such as spotting (and stopping) a drug deal on the premises, or helping a person who has overdosed, among other examples.

As such, it pays to arm yourself with information about illegal drugs, so you can know as much as possible going in.

As with every other crime, some areas in the UK experience higher levels of drug misuse than others. According to the most up-to-date information, the following towns and cities are the safest and most dangerous as far as drug use is concerned.

The 5 Safest for Drug Misuse

5th – Bournemouth – Popular seaside destination Bournemouth is one of the most drug-free areas of the UK, according to current data. Only 2.20 incidents of illegal drug use are reported per 1000 people.

4th – Wolverhampton – The City of Wolverhampton, which made the Top 5 safest areas in our ASB list, also does well in this category, experiencing just 2.09 incidents of illegal drug use per 1000 people.

3rd – Richmond Upon Thames – This London Borough features just 2.00 incidents of drug misuse per 1000 people.

2nd – Bristol – Coming in at number 2 is Bristol, which has the second-lowest rate of illegal drug use in the UK with only 1.89 incidents per 1000 people.

1st – Stoke-on-Trent – Statistically the most drug-free city in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland is Stoke-on-Trent. For every 1000 residents, there are only 1.54 incidents of illegal drug use.

The 5 Most Dangerous for Drug Misuse

5th – Nottingham – Nottingham experiences an average of 7.29 drug-related incidents for every 1000 residents.

4th – Tower Hamlets – Making its 2nd appearance in a ‘Most Dangerous’ category is the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. In addition to being one of the worst areas for ASB, residents also suffer 7.30 incidents of drug-related crime per 1000 people.

3rd – Belfast City – Another appearance on a ‘Most Dangerous’ list, Belfast sadly experiences 7.71 drug-related incidents per 1000 people.

2nd – Westminster – The City of Westminster, which topped our ‘Most Dangerous’ list for ASB-related crimes, now takes second place for drug-related crimes, with an exceptionally high 10.55 incidents per 1000 people.

1st – Liverpool – By far the worst UK city for drug use is Liverpool. Liverpool features 11.71 incidents of drug-related crime per 1000 people, a number that, quite honestly, is far too high.

rug-related crime is, unfortunately, getting worse throughout the UK, with numbers rising dramatically between 2018 and 2021. This means that Britain’s security operatives are going to have to be extra vigilant in this area.

The Best & Worst Areas for Weapon-Related Offences

British law takes a very dim view of anyone carrying an offensive weapon, whether the intent is to use it or not.

Often, carrying a weapon in public results in a prison sentence, and the list of mitigating circumstances that might allow for a weapon to be carried is extremely limited.

The severity of the crime is usually determined by the type of weapon being carried or used, and the location in which it was discovered or used.

Possession of an offensive weapon in a public place is different to threatening with a weapon, but both are considered criminal acts.

The law is so harsh in this area largely due to a rising tide of knife crime in the UK in recent years.

Security operatives, such as door supervisors, regularly confiscate potentially dangerous weapons from patrons, and routinely search patrons upon entry to ensure that they are carrying no weapons or contraband.

As with every other crime featured here, weapons possession is more likely to occur in some parts of the UK than it is in others.

The 5 Safest for Weapon-Related Offences

5th – Sutton – The London Borough of Sutton is a place where weapons-based offences are very low.

4th – Bexley – The second London Borough to appear on this list, Bexley also features a low rate of weapons-based offences. London is usually regarded as the worst area in the UK for knife crime, so this is quite encouraging, we feel.

3rd – Barnet – A third London Borough appearing on this list is another unexpected result, but a welcome one.

2nd – Harrow – The town of Harrow in Greater London comes in second on our list of safest places for weapons-based offences in the UK.

1st – Richmond upon Thames – Every area on this list is situated in or around the London area, which suggests that proactive measures aimed at tackling knife crime appear to be working, at least in some places. Richmond also appeared as one of the safest areas for drug-related crime as well.

The 5 Most Dangerous for Weapon-Related Offences

5th – Portsmouth – According to the most recent data, Portsmouth is the 5th most dangerous area in the UK for weapons-based offences.

4th – Southampton – Statistically the most dangerous part of Hampshire, Southampton is also a city struggling to handle an influx of weapons-based offences.

3rd – Nottingham – Nottingham, which also featured as one of the worst parts of the country for drug misuse, puts in another appearance here for weapons-based offences.

2nd – Wolverhampton – the City of Wolverhampton, which appeared on our lists as among the safest for ASB and drug misuse, here makes an appearance on the opposite list for its citizens carrying and using weapons.

1st – Birmingham – The UK city with the highest rate of weapon-related crime is Birmingham. Residents of Birmingham are startlingly likely to experience a weapon-related crime at some point in their lives.

As of early 2023, weapons-related offences do seem to be declining slightly in the UK, which is a very good sign. It has taken years of sustained effort on the part of police, social awareness campaigners, charities, fundraisers, local and national government, and private citizens to stem the tide of weapons use in the UK.

It’s worth remembering that people carry weapons for a multitude of reasons, including personal protection if they live and work in dangerous areas. An increased police or security presence (together with continued efforts on the part of those parties mentioned above) could therefore bring these numbers lower still.

The Best & Worst Areas for Robbery

British law makes clear distinctions between theft, robbery, and burglary.

In legal terms, ‘theft’ concerns the taking of another person’s property without their consent, ‘robbery’ involves stealing from another person via the use of threats or force of violence, and ‘burglary’ is only said to have occurred if a person illegally enters a property with the intent to steal another person’s belongings. Each crime is essentially distinct (though definitions can overlap in some circumstances) and carries with it a separate punishment or sentence.

For the purposes of this list, we will only be considering robberies as defined by the law (which would, of course, include muggings) and will not be factoring theft or burglary into our data because these are separate crimes.

Robbery will, by definition, sometimes involve the use of a weapon, meaning that there will likely be some overlap between the information used to compile this list and the information used for the previous list.

In 2021/22, there were 66,288 reported incidents of robbery in England and Wales, a considerable jump from the previous year’s number of 59,659. Of course, periods spent under pandemic-created ‘lockdown’ conditions could account for this. Both numbers are still down from their 2002/03 high point, when numbers soared as high as 110,271.

As we’ve established, crime rates throughout the UK are relatively high at the time of writing, with robbery being among the most common crimes reported.

With that in mind, let’s discover the best and worst areas for robbery in the UK.

The 5 Safest for Robbery

5th – Reading – Britain’s least ASB-affected city is also among the safest for robberies, with relatively few occurring each year, just 0.70 per 1000 residents.

4th – Milton Keynes – Another city that featured highly on our ‘ASB’ list, Milton Keynes is also a relatively safe city as far as robberies are concerned. 0.67 for every 1000 people is very good indeed.

3rd – Cardiff – The Welsh capital makes its first appearance here as one of the UK cities where residents and visitors are least likely to be robbed or mugged. Cardiff residents experience just 0.64 robberies per 1000 people.  

2nd – Plymouth – This port city on Devon’s South Coast makes a surprise, but welcome entry as the second-safest UK city as far as robberies are concerned. Residents of Plymouth only suffer 0.58 robberies for every 1000 people.

1st – Swansea – The second Welsh city to appear on this list takes the top spot as the safest city in the UK for robberies and muggings. Swansea experiences just 0.51 incidents of robbery per 1000 people.

The 5 Most Dangerous for Robbery

5th – Camden – The London Boroughs fared very well in our ‘weapons’ list, but don’t seem to be doing as well here, as Camden begins our countdown for the areas with the highest robbery-to-citizen ratio. In Camden, this ratio is 3.99 to 1000.

4th – Islington – Another London Borough wherein robbery is statistically more likely than in most other areas of the country is Islington. In Islington, the robbery rate is 4.12 incidents for every 1000 people.

3rd – Haringey – Yet another London Borough features on this list. Haringey residents suffer a robbery rate of 4.59 incidents per 1000 people.

2nd – Hackney – It’s safe to say that London and its surrounding areas, despite making good progress when it comes to reducing the number of weapons-related offences, is still the part of the UK wherein robbery and mugging are most likely to occur. In Hackney, there are 4.71 robberies for every 1000 people.

1st – Westminster – Despite being a prominent, and highly affluent, area Westminster once again tops a ‘Most Dangerous’ list. The city that took first place in our ‘ASB’ list and came second in our ‘Drug-Related Offences’ list, again takes the top spot here, as the city wherein people are most likely to be robbed and/or mugged. The robbery rate is 8.16 for every 1000 people, almost twice more than the number 2 rated area.

The Best & Worst Areas for Shoplifting

At first glance, shoplifting may seem like a confusingly minor crime to be included alongside weapons-based offences, robbery, drug dealing, and some of the other offences still to come. However, shoplifting is a serious crime, and can carry prison sentences as high as 7 years.

Intense shoplifting damages store profits, and can lead to disinvestment in the local area, which, as discussed in the ‘ASB’ section, is potentially devastating.

Shoplifting is especially harmful to small businesses, which can lose hundreds of pounds worth of profits a week.

In today’s economic climate, with less money being spent in physical shops, and prices in general skyrocketing, small businesses (which add so much to the character and uniqueness of a local area, not to mention employing people and generating profits for that area) cannot afford to take even a small loss from shoplifting.

Many of the larger stores and supermarket chains employ retail security guards, however, smaller shops and businesses can ill afford the extra expense. This can cause shoplifters to target the smaller stores, causing small business owners, in turn, to spend extra money on precautionary measures such as CCTV (although government grants are sometimes made available to tackle these expenses).

The 5 Safest for Shoplifting

5th – Enfield – A large town in North London, Enfield is an area wherein shoplifting is a relatively rare occurrence. It is so rare, in fact, that there are apparently only 2.62 incidents per 1000 people.

4th – Hackney – Making its second appearance (although this time on the good side of a list) Hackney may be a ‘hotspot’ for robberies and muggings, but it is one of the safest areas of the country as far as shoplifting is concerned. In fact, it is tied with Enfield with just 2.62 incidents per 1000 people.

3rd – Richmond upon Thames – Britain’s safest area for weapons-based crimes also appeared on our ‘Safest’ list for drug-based offences. Making its 3rd appearance so far, this London Borough is also one of the UK’s safest areas regarding shoplifting. There are just 2.31 incidents per 1000 people.

2nd – Tower Hamlets – It’s nice to see Tower Hamlets appearing on a ‘Safest’ list after appearing on our ‘Most Dangerous’ list for both ASB and drug use. In Tower Hamlets, the rate is as low as 2.20 per 1000 residents.

1st – Harrow – Harrow, which also made our ‘Safest’ list for weapons-based offences, tops our list as the area with the lowest number of shoplifting complaints with just 1.88 incidents for every 1000 residents.

The 5 Most Dangerous for Shoplifting

5th – Leeds – At number 5, the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire is unfortunately home to a lot of shoplifters. For every 1000 citizens, there are 8.45 incidents of shoplifting.

4th – Westminster – It would be surprising for an area as apparently affluent as Westminster to have such a high shoplifting rate, if it weren’t for the fact that the city topped our ‘Most Dangerous’ lists for ASB and robberies, as well as coming 2nd in our ‘Most Dangerous’ list for drug-related crimes. Westminster features 9.59 incidents for every 1000 people who live there.

3rd – Nottingham – Nottingham, which also featured on our ‘Most Dangerous’ lists for drugs and weapons, puts in another appearance as a city where shoplifting is very common. The ratio is 9.84 for every 1000 people.

2nd – Middlesbrough – That a city with high levels of ASB should also see a lot of shoplifting is hardly surprising. For every 1000 people, there are 10.22 complaints of shoplifting.

1st – Portsmouth – Portsmouth, which also featured on our ‘Most Dangerous’ list for weapons-based offences is the city with the highest levels of shoplifting in the UK. Portsmouth has 11.79 incidents for every 1000 people.

Shoplifting is a complex issue. Sometimes, it can occur as a result of a simple accident, other times as a result of youth peer pressure, or mental illnesses such as kleptomania. It can also be a crime of desperation, motivated by periods of economic instability, such as at the time of writing. 

Shoplifting can also be linked to drug dependency/addiction, alcohol misuse, ASB, and other personal/social problems. If you work in retail security, it pays to know as much as you can about the subject.

It is heartening to know that, at present, levels of shoplifting do appear to be decreasing in the UK. 2018’s figures were quite high, but they have steadily dropped since that time, and remain at 2020 levels as of the time of writing.

The Best & Worst Areas for Public Order Offenses

It’s understandable if you’re not familiar with the term ‘Public Order Offences‘. Outside of law-based discussions, the term is not widely used.

The term refers to the Public Order Act 1986, which was created as a way of allowing the police to better keep the peace. The act defines public order offences as, essentially, any public disorder (usually involving multiple individuals) that is intended to enable violence or induce intimidation.

Public order offences can include rioting, harassment, stalking, public drunkenness, verbal abuse, and other unpleasant behaviours.

By their legal definition, breaches of public order cause law-abiding citizens to feel afraid for their safety, victimised, or otherwise intimidated. Some public order offences overlap with examples of ASB but are usually tried differently in court.

It goes without saying that public order offences can be very detrimental to an area. Regular incidents can cause residents to live in fear or even relocate. The local population may also lose faith in police or local security, and ultimately lose pride in their local area.

As with ASB, public order offences encourage disinvestment, apathy, and social unrest. They can also cause issues such as drug use and gang culture to proliferate.

The 5 Safest for Public Order Offenses

5th – Sutton – At number 5, Sutton adopts the same spot on our ‘Safest’ list as it did in the ‘weapons-based offences’ list. In Sutton, there are just 4.76 public order offences per 1000 people.

4th – Kingston upon Thames – This Royal London Borough has few incidents of public disorder, just 4.71 per 1000 people.

3rd – Harrow – The overall safest area for shoplifting and 2nd safest for weapons-based offences, Harrow makes its 3rd appearance on a ‘Safest’ list, with just 4.18 public order offences per 1000 people.

2nd – Richmond upon Thames – One of the safest areas in the UK as far as drugs, weapons, and shoplifting are concerned, Richmond now comes close to topping the chart as the safest for public order offences, with just 4.16 public order offences per 1000 people.

1st – Belfast City – It’s very nice to see Belfast, which appeared on our ‘Most Dangerous’ lists for both ASB and drug misuse, topping a ‘safe’ list. With just 1.29 public order offences per 1000 people, Belfast is the UK’s safest city in this regard.

The 5 Most Dangerous for Public Order Offenses

5th – Kingston upon Hull – Not to be confused with Kingston upon Thames (number 4 on the ‘Safest’ list), this Yorkshire port city, better known as ‘Hull’, suffers from high levels of public order offences, with 16.43 for every 1000 residents.

4th – Liverpool – The city that topped our ‘drug use’ list comes in 4th place here as one of the cities with the highest levels of public order offences (17.98 per 1000 people) in the UK.

3rd – Middlesbrough – Middlesbrough has high levels of ASB and shoplifting. Apparently, it also suffers from a lot of public disorder, with 18.07 incidents per 1000 people.

2nd – Bradford – Making its 1st appearance on any list, the West Yorkshire City of Bradford features a whopping 20.09 incidents of public disorder per 1000 people.

1st – Leeds – Leeds, which previously appeared on our ‘Most Dangerous’ list for shoplifting, is also the UK’s most disorderly city, at least according to the terms used by the Public Order Act. Residents of Leeds experience 21.15 public order offences per 1000 people.

According to recent data, public order offences have been on the rise since 2018.

The Best & Worst Areas for Violence & Sexual Offenses

The category here is, admittedly, rather broad. Since sexual offences qualify as a form of assault, violence and sexual offences are often included together where data gathering is concerned.

For clarity, violent crimes include all forms of assault, from credible threats, harassment and abuse, to small-scale scuffles, deliberate infliction of serious injuries, and even murder.

Sexual offences include (but are not limited to) domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, indecent exposure, human trafficking focussing upon sexual exploitation, exploitation of others for a sexual purpose (whether in person or online), grooming, child sexual abuse, statutory rape, sexual assault, and rape.

It goes without saying that these crimes are extremely serious, and all pose a direct threat to the safety of the communities in which they occur. Because the main crimes listed here are very broad, they will encompass more individual actions, hence the numbers will be higher on this list than any others.

The 5 Safest for Violence & Sexual Offenses

5th – Barnet – The London Borough of Barnet is statistically among the safest in the UK, as far as violence and sexual offences are concerned. For every 1000 people in Barnet, there are 21.02 incidents of violence or sexual assault.

4th – Bromley – Another London Borough, Bromley only experiences 20.52 incidents of violence or sexual assault per 1000 people.

3rd – Kingston upon Thames – Making its second appearance (it also appeared on our ‘public order’ ‘Safe’ list) on a positive list, this London Borough experiences 19.73 incidents per 1000 people.

2nd – Harrow – Very safe for weapons-based offences, shoplifting, and public order offences, Harrow is also a very safe area as far as violent and sexual crimes are concerned. The town has come 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in 3 of our lists – and now takes the number 2 slot here as well. With just 19.45 incidents per 1000 people, this is another impressive result for the Borough.

1st – Richmond upon Thames – The Number 1 safest area for weapons-related offences is also the 3rd safest from drugs and shoplifting, and the 2nd safest for public order offences. Richmond upon Thames also tops the ‘Safest’ list for violence and sexual offences, with just 16.77 incidents reported for every 1000. Richmond has performed consistently well throughout this feature.

The 5 Most Dangerous for Violence & Sexual Offenses

5th – Wolverhampton – Despite appearing on our ‘Safest’ lists for drug use and ASB, Wolverhampton was among the ‘Most Dangerous’ areas for weapons offences. Apparently, the number of assaults and sexual wrongdoing is also very high, with 59.70 incidents per 1000 people.

4th – Leeds – The UK’s Number 1 most dangerous place for public order offences also appeared on our list for shoplifting. Here, Leeds makes another ‘Most Dangerous’ appearance, with 66.00 incidents of violence or sex crime per 1000 residents.

3rd – Middlesbrough – Appearing on both our ASB and shoplifting lists, Middlesbrough unfortunately also appears on our ‘Violence and Sexual Offences’ list as well. With 66.15 incidents per 1000 residents.

2nd – Birmingham – The city with the highest rate of weapons-related crime also has the 2nd highest rate of violence and sexual offences, with 67.28 incidents per 1000 residents.

1st – Bradford – The city with the 2nd highest level of public disorder also scores the highest levels of violence and sexual offences, with 70.72 incidents per 1000 residents.

Every location on this ‘Most Dangerous’ list has a lot of work to do. These are very serious issues that need to be dealt with. Fortunately, there are a number of innovative social programs and other measures that can be taken. Proactive local governments, public spending, and an increased police and security presence can also help a lot.

Sadly, current figures indicate that incidents of violence and sexual offences are worsening in number, with a nationwide jump of around 5% since 2018.

Conclusion: The Safest & Most Dangerous Areas in the UK

By taking all the individual data we’ve examined and applying it collectively to the areas that have appeared on our lists, it is possible to basically determine which 5 areas are statistically the safest in the UK (not counting Scotland), and which are the most dangerous.

If you’ve been paying attention so far, these results will likely hold few surprises. Nevertheless, here are the 5 safest areas, and the 5 most dangerous areas of the UK (in terms of their respective crime rates).

The 5 Safest (Overall)

5th –Sutton – The honour of 5th safest area in the UK goes to Sutton. This London Borough appeared on both our ‘weapons-based offences’ and ‘public order offences’ ‘Safe’ lists and has a generally low crime rate.

As a side note, Wolverhampton achieved the same basic aggregate score as several others on this list. The city did well to appear on our ‘Safest’ lists for ASB and drug use, but also made appearances on our ‘Dangerous’ lists for the high rates of weapons-based offences, violence, and sexual offences. For these reasons, we decided not to include the city in our overall ‘Safest’ list.

4th – Tie – Milton Keynes & Reading – The first of several ties sees Milton Keynes and Reading jointly earning 4th place. Milton Keynes appeared on our ‘Safest’ lists for ASB and robberies, while Reading topped our ‘Safest’ list for ASB, and, like Milton Keynes, also appeared on our ‘Robberies’ safe list.

Milton Keynes is still the most dangerous city in Buckinghamshire, however, with a crime rate that is 30% higher than the regional crime rate, and 22% higher than the national crime rate, hence why it only occupies the 4th place slot.

Reading, though a high scorer in a number of positive areas, is also not without its drawbacks. Statistically the most dangerous city in Berkshire, it has a crime rate 16% higher than the rest of the county, and 9% higher than the national average.

Despite this, both cities performed well enough by our analysis to earn the 4th place on this list.

3rd – Tie – Kingston upon Thames & Barnet – Two more London Boroughs share the coveted 3rd place on our list. Kingston appeared on our ‘Safest’ lists for ‘public order offences’ and ‘violence and sexual offences’, while Barnet appeared on both our ‘violence and sexual offences’ and ‘weapons-based offences’ lists.

Barnet is among the Top 10 safest London Boroughs, with a crime rate 22% lower than the rest of the region, and 12% lower than the national average. Despite a spiking crime rate in April 2021, when it briefly became London’s most dangerous area in the category of ‘other’ crime, Barnet is still statistically one of the safest areas in the UK.

Kingston upon Thames is one of the Top 5 safest London Boroughs, with a crime rate 28% lower than the regional average, and 19% lower than the national average. Unfortunately, the most common crimes in Kingston are serious ones (belonging to the ‘violence and sexual offences’ category), which holds the Borough back somewhat.

2nd – Harrow – The town of Harrow appeared at the top of our ‘Safest’ list for shoplifting and came 2nd in our ‘violence and sexual offences’ ‘safe’ list. It also appeared on our ‘Safest’ lists for weapons-based and public order offences. The town is therefore thoroughly deserving to be called the 2nd safest place overall in the UK.

The chance of being involved in a violent crime in Harrow is 1.96% per year, which is very low compared to almost anywhere else on this list. Theft is slightly more common, but even then, the chances are only 2.60%.

Harrow is the 2nd safest London Borough overall, its crime rate is 33% lower than the regional average, and 25% below the national average.

1st – Richmond upon Thames – The clear overall winner, Richmond upon Thames appeared in the Top 3 of 3 of our ‘Safe’ lists (‘drug-related offences’, ‘shoplifting’, and ‘public Order Offences’), and took 1st place in 2 of them (‘weapons-based offences’ and ‘violence and sexual offences’).

Richmond is one of the few areas of the UK that has an actively falling crime rate, with a 2.2% drop between 2021 and 2022. Between 2011 and 2021, crime rates in Richmond fell by an average of 0.1% each year. Richmond’s residents have only a 1.53% chance of being involved in a violent crime, and just a 2.90% chance of being involved in a theft.

Richmond upon Thames is the safest London Borough, with a crime rate that’s 34% lower than the regional average, and 26% below the national average.

According to the data, Richmond upon Thames is far and away the safest security gig in the UK.

The 5 Most Dangerous (Overall)

5th – Tie – Belfast City & Portsmouth – Technically scoring around the same as several others on this list, Belfast City came 2nd on our ‘ASB’ list, and 3rd for drug-related offences. However, it also topped the ‘Safest’ list for ‘public order offences’, so we opted to put it in 5th place. Belfast City is the most dangerous part of County Antrim and has a crime rate that is 121% higher than anywhere else in the vicinity. Belfast’s crime rates are also 33% higher than the national crime rate.

Portsmouth made appearances on our ‘weapons-based offences’ and ‘shoplifting’ lists. Portsmouth is, however, the safest city in Hampshire (according to the data), so, as with Belfast, we kept it in 5th place. The crime rate in Portsmouth is 65% higher than other areas in Hampshire (non-cities), and 55% higher than the national crime rate.

4th – Tie – Leeds & Liverpool – Leeds topped our list for public disorder and appeared on both our ‘shoplifting’ and ‘violence and sexual Offences’ lists. According to the data, Leeds is the most dangerous city in West Yorkshire, with a crime rate that is 58% higher than anywhere else in the county, and 100% higher than the national crime rate.

Liverpool, for its part, topped our list for ‘drug-related offences’, as well as appearing on our ‘public order offences’ list. Liverpool’s high crime rate is 149% higher than the regional crime rate, and 67% higher than the national crime rate, making it a dangerous place to live and work.

3rd – Nottingham – Nottingham made our ‘drugs’, ‘weapons’ and ‘shoplifting’ ‘Most Dangerous’ lists, and now comes 3rd on our overall ‘Most Dangerous’ list, having a higher aggregate score than any of the other areas we’ve seen so far.

Nottingham is not only the most dangerous city in Nottinghamshire, but it also has a crime rate that’s 38% higher than anywhere else in the region, and 49% higher than the national crime rate.

Crimes in Nottingham account for 0.9% of Britain’s overall crime rate, and residents have an above-average chance of being involved in a violent crime (4.41%), and/or theft (3.84%). To make matters worse, Nottingham’s crime rate increased by over 17% between 2021 and 2022.

2nd – Middlesbrough – Middlesbrough made our ‘Most Dangerous’ list for ASB, shoplifting, public disorder, and violence and sexual offences, scoring highly in every category.

The overall crime rate in Middlesbrough is 18,883 incidents per 100,000 people, which is astonishingly high. Middlesbrough is the most dangerous city in North Yorkshire, with a crime rate 69% higher than the rest of the area, and 115% higher than the national crime rate.

Crime in Middlesbrough accounts for 0.6% of all crime in the UK, and Middlesbrough residents have a 6.83% chance of being involved in a violent crime, and a 5.20% chance of being involved with a theft. Worse still, Middlesbrough’s crime rate worsened by a massive 24.6% between 2021 and 2022.

1st – Westminster – The City of Westminster was a regular on our ‘Most Dangerous’ lists, coming 4th on the ‘shoplifting’ list, 2nd on the ‘drug-related offences’ list, and topping the charts for both ASB and robbery.

The crime rate in Westminster is 119% higher than the regional rate, and 147% higher than the national crime rate. Westminster also has a 42% higher crime rate than Middlesbrough, and a rate 61.9% higher than that of Nottingham.

The crime rate in Westminster is so high that there are 32,849 incidents for every 100,000 people, and crime in the city grew by a terrifying 60.0% between the years 2021 and 2022.

The likelihood of being involved in a violent crime in Westminster is 5.76%, while the likelihood of being involved in a theft is 19.81%. Crime in Westminster makes up 1.4% of the UK’s overall crime rate.

For these reasons, Westminster is statistically the most dangerous city in the UK, and therefore tops the list for the worst place to be employed as a security operative.

Staying Safe

As we’ve seen (and hopefully proved) some areas of the UK are demonstrably safer than others. This does not mean, however, that there is any such thing as a totally safe place in the UK or anywhere else. Crime still exists, even in the areas with the lowest crime rates.

Even in our number one ‘safest area’, Richmond upon Thames, there were still 3320 reported incidents of violence and sexual offences in 2021 alone.

It is of vital importance, then, that you stay safe, no matter where you are based.  

As a security operative, you will very likely encounter the worst elements of any area, no matter what the statistics say. It is imperative, then, that you remember your training, and put in for as much extra training as possible.

If possible, enlist operatives who are familiar with the local area to help you learn the layout and specifics of every new premises, area, or venue that you find yourself guarding.

You should also be sure that all your equipment is working and up to date (torches charged, stab vest in date, two-way radio in full working order, etc). The last thing you need is an equipment failure at a crucial moment.

In addition, take your rest when and where you can. Old soldiers will often say things like “sleep whenever you can, because you never know when you’ll next get the chance”. While this approach is a little extreme (not to mention impractical) for civilian life, there is still wisdom in it. Be sure that you are as rested as possible before and after each shift. Don’t overwork yourself, as this can lead to errors in judgement.

Finally, whether you’re in an overly ‘safe’ location or a ‘dangerous’ one (or, like most of us, a place somewhere in between the two), you owe it to yourself, your family, your employers, and those in your care to keep yourself as safe as you possibly can.