If you’re thinking of moving to London, or relocating to a different area of the city, we’ve collated some information on crime in the capital, and the safest places to live.
When moving to a new area it’s only natural to want to understand the crime rates of your potential neighbourhood. Research by Churchill suggests that roughly 80 house sales fall through per day as a result of buyers’ fears about crime in the area they’re moving to (and the same is likely true when people are choosing where to rent). This is in spite of the fact that, according to the latest releases from the Office for National Statistics, while many types of crime have risen slightly in the past year, the majority still remain below their pre-pandemic levels.
"Living somewhere and experiencing it for yourself will always do more to shape your opinion of an area than anything you could read about it."
Numbers can only tell us so much, and thinking about the statistics may not actually be all that comforting when you’re walking down a dimly lit street, or fumbling for your keys in your doorway. Living somewhere and experiencing it for yourself will always do more to shape your opinion of an area than anything you could read about it. But if arming yourself with knowledge makes you feel braver, we’ve done the research for you. Read on to discover some of the safest areas in London.
What you need to know about crime in London
According to The Economist’s 2021 Safe Cities Index, London ranks ‘high’ and ‘very high’ across all five categories (digital security, health security, infrastructure security, personal security and environmental security). This may come as a surprise to some, but it’s also an easy ranking to dismiss - what use are global comparisons when you’re only looking for places to live in the UK?
This leads us to Numbeo’s Crime Index, focusing purely on cities in Europe. Since 2019, London has moved from 10th most dangerous down to 21st. More surprisingly, Bradford has held the top spot since 2021, with Coventry currently 2nd and Birmingham 5th. This shows an interesting contrast from research carried out early last year, suggesting that nearly half of Londoners feel that the city is becoming less safe. However, that research later goes on to reveal that 48% of the same people surveyed believe that their London neighbourhood is safe. This number jumps to 53% when looking at parents with school-aged children.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that tips for staying safe in London are often exactly the same as they are for any other major city, and the majority of these suggestions rely on common sense. For example, don’t advertise any cash or valuables you’re carrying, and don’t walk alone in the dark when you’re not sure of your route.
Crime rates often increase in places where the population is higher, and also in areas with higher levels of poverty. Despite being a capital city with some very affluent areas, there is still plenty of poverty to be found in London, and there are direct links between income deprivation and crime. With this in mind, many would describe London’s crime levels as proportional.
What this tells us is that crime in London is as much to do with how its residents feel as it is to do with numbers. Even living somewhere described as the safest city in the world might feel unsafe, if your personal experience has led you to feel that way - and gut instincts are an important part of staying safe, so shouldn’t be dismissed.
Which areas are the safest?
Focusing on areas with a crime rate of less than 100 crimes per 1,000 people, we’re highlighting four of the safest areas in London.
The southeast borough of Bexley is part of Outer London. It’s one of the greenest boroughs of London with over 100 parks, and has a population of roughly 250,000. Travel links to central London are good, with the recently opened Elizabeth Line meaning that you can now get from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf in under 15 minutes.
House prices are lower on average here than elsewhere else in London, and rents are predicted to increase at a slightly lower rate than in other parts of the city. Many parts of Bexley are currently undergoing regeneration, which is boosting local communities. Independent businesses do well in Bexley, making them a common sight alongside many chains on the local highstreets There are also plenty of primary and secondary schools with outstanding OFSTED ratings, making Bexley a popular place for young families.
Vandalism and violent crime are well below the UK average here, let alone the rates just in London.
Thinking back to how crime rates often relate directly to poverty, it’s understandable that Richmond-upon-Thames, one of London’s wealthiest boroughs, is also one of the safest. The underground station is in Zone 4 and runs District and London Overground line services, and Heathrow airport is less than 30 minutes away by car.
The area is known for feeling like a rural village, without losing any of the benefits of city amenities. Richmond Park and its famous deer herds attract visitors from near and far, and after a scenic stroll by the river there are plenty of shops and cafes to browse to your heart’s content. It’s unsurprising that it’s consistently voted one of the happiest places to live in the country. This happiness comes at a price however, with the average property price sitting at over £900,000, which is more than £500,000 more than the national average.
Despite a slight increase in violent offences between 2020 and 2021, Richmond-upon-Thames is still London’s safest borough, with the least common crime being possession of weapons.
Found in the northeast of London, Waltham Forest is not just one of the safest boroughs in London, but in the top 20 safest places to live in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. A cultural hub home to many artists, musicians, and creative groups, it also houses a slightly higher proportion of young people compared to other London boroughs.
With connections to the Central, Victoria, and London Overground lines, transport links in this area are good for commuters. There’s also a big local focus on improving infrastructure surrounding cycling, as part of a Mini Holland scheme. Waltham Forest is home to an impressive nature reserve, the Walthamstow Wetlands, as well as the longest outdoor market in Europe, which is a whole kilometre in length.
Out of the 32 London boroughs, Waltham Forest is considered the 20th most expensive, making it more accessible than Richmond-upon-Thames. Even so, house prices have spiked dramatically in the past decade, increasing by an incredible 130%.
Between 2020 and 2021 there was a 31% fall in weapons-based crime in Walthamstow, though this was likely influenced by Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns.
The borough of Barnet in North London is in the top 10 safest boroughs, and has 12% less crime on average than the rest of England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland. Popular with commuters thanks to its many Northern line links, Barnet is the most heavily populated of the London boroughs.
"UNCLE wants our renters to feel safe at home with us, and that’s why safety is the top priority in our neighbourhoods and buildings."
Barnet is currently going through a period of regeneration, which will involve a total revamp of the town centre. Barnet council is also currently putting money into new housing, as well as parks, shops and leisure centres in the area. Rent dropped dramatically in Barnet between 2020 and 2021, and while it still remains low compared to most of London, it’s not surprising it’s back on the rise given the money being put into the area.
In Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Barnet town (also called Chipping Barnet, or High Barnet) is where the titular hero meets the Artful Dodger. Unfortunately sometimes life imitates art - even with its top 10 safest status, for the month of November 2021 Barnet had the worst monthly rate of burglary in all of London. This proves that even the safest areas in London can have black marks on their record.
Living in London with UNCLE
If you don’t feel safe in the place you call home, then it’s not really a home - it’s just where you live. We want our renters to feel safe at home with us, and that’s why safety is the top priority in our neighbourhoods and buildings.
Fobs or access codes are necessary to enter our buildings, and guests must be signed in by name at the front desk. Outside our buildings it’s lights, cameras, action - good lighting and CCTV aren’t just helpful in the event of a crime, they’re a preventative measure. If you need help, in or out of regular hours, we make sure there is someone you can speak to at any time of day.
We have six locations in London - our newest development can be found in Colindale in Barnet (that top 10 safest borough we mentioned). But if the north isn’t for you, we also have locations in the north west, south east, south west and west of London. Take a look at our properties and find out about more of the perks of living in London with UNCLE today.