Home Living in the UK Government & Law Crime and the legal system in the UK
Last update on June 16, 2020

Having a basic idea about crime levels in the UK, areas to avoid, plus an understanding of the legal system, can make your life in the UK much safer.

According to the British Crime Survey (BCS) there has been a gradual decrease in the crime rate for 2010–2011. Results show that crime is at its lowest levels since the survey was introduced in 1981. Police-recorded crime showed a four percent reduction between 2010/11 (4.2 million offences) and 2009/10 (4.3 million offences). Britain, however, has the highest rate of burglary in the European Union and is also nearly top of the league for assaults and hate crimes.

As the Guardian states it: The UK is named alongside Ireland, Estonia, the Netherlands and Denmark as the crime hotspots of Europe, with crime victim rates that are at least 30 percent higher than the EU average.

The European Crime and Safety Survey 2007 states that the percent of people not victimized in the last five years in the city of London is around 37 percent. Almost 80 percent of the citizens of the city claim that they trust the police and the legislation system. However, the percent of people who have decided not to have a household security system or anti-burglar device is only 2 percent.

Common crimes in the UK

The crimes that hold the lead in the UK are burglary and car theft. By definition, the crime of burglary is a non-confrontational property crime that occurs when the victims are not at home. However, becoming victims of burglary can leave a family feeling vulnerable and violated. To try to minimize the risk of such crime, British people prefer using alarms and special door locks. As this is a constant problem in the UK, the local police concentrate their efforts on making the public aware of how to avoid the risk of theft. A recent survey shows that every two out of three crimes reported is a theft.

Along with countries like Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden, the risk of being assaulted is very high in the UK. Unfortunately, this also applies to the rate of ‘hate crimes’ against minorities, which is unacceptable for a country that gives shelter to people from nations all around the world.

A crime sector that is quite low in the UK is “ethical crimes”.  Unlike countries such as Greece and Hungary, British citizens gave a negative answer more often when asked whether a public official has asked them to pay bribes. It is good news for expats in the UK that corruption is not a common practice here.

Areas with high crime levels in the UK

Since January 2009, every UK police force has made maps available on their website that give the local crime statistics and details of neighbourhood policing teams in the local area. Since January 2011, maps and information which show the level of crime and anti-social behaviour on each street have been publicly available on the internet. That way, everyone considering a move to a specific city, and even neighborhood, may check up on it in advance.

Statistics show that more men are involved in crimes than women–the correlation is 70,000 to 4,000. It is also a well-known fact that the biggest cities tend to be more dangerous. When compared to rural areas, the crime rate increases in London, Manchester and Liverpool are quite dramatic.

Crime resources in the UK

In conclusion, remember that precaution is the best tactic to prevent crimes. The government has launched an informative online brochure to help the citizens lessen the risk of crime. On the website you can find useful tips on how to prevent burglary, robbery and other theft through real-life examples.

They have also provided information on Community Safety Partnerships for each region in the UK. Currently there are 310 Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) in England and 22 in Wales. Also remember that anytime you are in need urgent help, you can dial the national UK emergency police number–999.

Call 101 to report non-emergency crime including: stolen cars, laptops or mobiles; minor traffic collisions; property damage; drug dealing; or if you want to give the police information about crime in your area. If you are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired, you can use the text-phone number 1800 101 to report your non-emergency crime.