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In the run down of top cities across the globe, London undoubtedly reigns as one of the most attractive. Packed full of a delightful blend of historic charm, captivating culture, world-renowned landmarks, and an alluring culinary scene, London continues to receive a constant stream of tourists from across the world.

However, whilst London’s allure is undeniable, some media outlets — focusing on crime rates and portraying a city awash with violence — may leave potential visitors questioning: “Is London safe?”

Indeed, safety is a crucial factor that shapes our traveling decisions. But while there are obviously some issues with crime in this massive global city, what are the realities for visitors?

So, let’s dive into these pressing questions, unravel the real facts about safety in London, and put the sensational headlines into perspective.

How Many Murders per Year in London?

It is natural for the term “murder” to strike a chord of fear within us. When statistics flash on our screens or echo from our radios about murder rates, we cannot help but question our environment’s safety.

As of 2021, there were approximately 126 murders recorded in London – an alarming figure on the surface. However, consider this within the context of London’s hefty population of approximately 9 million. Proportionally, the data indicates that London’s murder rate is 1.4 per 100,000 residents.

To put this into perspective, the rate alone is significantly lower than many other global cities of comparable size and influence. For example, the murder rate in the United States’ largest city, New York, was 3.8 per 100,000 residents in the same year.

Other cities such as Bangkok (3.7 per 100,000), Berlin (2.5 per 100,000) and Las Vegas (10.3 per 100,000) or even Toronto (2.7 per 100,000) aren’t perceived as being unsafe of violent cities, but receive much higher homicide rates.

Therefore, the media portrayal of rampant violence is, in reality, a distorted image. The overall risk of becoming a victim of such a crime, statistically, is very low, particularly for tourists.

muggings in London are statistically rare

How Many Tourists are Affected by Crime in London?

For every traveler, whether experienced or novice, understanding the risks associated with visiting a specific destination is significant. In London, according to the Metropolitan Police data, approximately one percent of the total 8 million criminal cases reported each year are matters involving tourists.

The primary crimes against tourists are petty thefts or pickpocketing, often in crowded places like the tube or tourist hotspots. Therefore, while the risk is present, it is also manageable with some precautions, which we will address further down this guide.

Will I Get Mugged If I Go to London?

The vast majority of visitors, and I do mean VAST, will experience nothing but a good time. Well, that and the stress of the huge amounts of people trying to get on the tube at Oxford Street at any given time. As for muggings, its very rare that most people will experience any street crime.

As someone who has lived in London for over 10 years, I have never experienced any direct violence against myself. I have witnessed aggressions between people on the street, and the results of car crashes, even the odd-drunken fight outside a pub or nightclub.

This is coming from someone who regularly walks though areas such as Brixton, Peckham, Shoreditch, Hoxton and Islington late at night.

But if you are considering moving to London, or visiting for the weekend, the chances of you falling victim to any sort of crime are low. Saying that, we will look at how to reduce your chances in a moment.

Is London Actually Dangerous?

Whenever the question of safety arises, it is essential to make comprehensive comparisons. Whilst London does experience crime, like any large city worldwide, it is considered safer than many other popular destinations when you look deeper into the statistics.

According to The Economist 2019 Safe Cities Index, London ranks as the 14th safest city globally. This index ranks cities based on several factors, including digital, health, infrastructure, and personal security.

Certainly, dangers can be found in London, but these risks are relative. If you are a tourist who remains aware of your surroundings, the likelihood of you falling victim to a crime decreases greatly.

If you’re drunk, for example on a London stag do, or a big night out, you can single yourself out as a target to some people.

Basically, avoid being drunk and unruly, especially in big groups, as this can cause problems with people looking for trouble.

know how to stay safe in london

Where Are the Most Dangerous Places in London?

Like any city, some areas of London might pose higher risks than others. Places with a higher density of crime include Lambeth, Southwark, Westminster, Newham, and Hackney, according to recent Metropolitan Police data.

These areas, particularly Lambeth and Southwark, frequently attract tourists due to their several picturesque attractions.

However, the higher crime rates do not mean that you should avoid these places entirely. It merely emphasises the need to be cautious and remain aware of your surroundings while visiting these areas.

Knife crime and gang related crimes mostly happen on the cities housing estates, in places such as Brixton, Hackney, Croydon and parts of North London. Gang related crimes often affect people within those cultures, which usually means either people who live in those areas, or who are involved in gang activity.

This is not to say that there is occasionally an unfortunate incident affecting an innocent bystander. But for most people visiting London, it is something very unlikely to affect them.

Is South London Safe?

You might have heard about crime in places such as Brixton, Peckham, Lewisham, Croydon and Camberwell. All of these places do have their share of local crime and violence, but again, it is relatively rare.

If you’re worried about going on a night out in Peckham or Brixton, or if you have an Airbnb in Camberwell, you shouldn’t need to worry. The overwhelming majority of people in these places are law abiding and generally friendly people.

How to Avoid Crime in London

Safety often comes down to preparation, awareness, and vigilance. Here are some tips to minimise the risk of falling victim to crime:

  1. Stay Alert: Whether in a crowded attraction or on public transportation, it is essential to stay aware of your surroundings. There are pickpockets and scammers everywhere, including in London.
  2. Secure Your Possessions: Keep your belongings close and secure. Make use of hotel safes for essential valuables and documents. Opportunistic thieves often target tourists who leave their equipment such as cameras or bags unattended.
  3. Avoid Late Night Solo Travel: It is generally safer to avoid walking alone late at night, especially in less crowded or poorly lit areas. And with London’s transport options, there is always a safer option to get home.
  4. Use Licensed Cabs: Unlicensed taxis can involve risks. Choose licensed taxi companies or reputable rideshare apps to ensure safety.
  5. Research Areas: Check out the safety of a location before visiting, particularly if heading off the beaten path. Most popular tourist areas are pretty safe, but if you’re using an Airbnb or local accommodation alternative, read up first.

Overall, while London may have its crime-related challenges, it remains a relatively safe city, especially for tourists. A balanced understanding of these statistics, awareness, and some preventative measures can ensure visitors have a memorable experience exploring what London has to offer, without fear curtailing their adventure.

The TL;DR?

The portrait of a volatile, dangerous London eclipsed by crime painted by some media narratives is far from the daily reality experienced by millions of residents and tourists alike.

About Post Author

D Abel-Smith

Freelance content writer, real-life Londoner. Probably on his Macbook in a south London coffee shop.
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By D Abel-Smith

Freelance content writer, real-life Londoner. Probably on his Macbook in a south London coffee shop.

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