Is Kensington really safer than Battersea? The answer may surprise you

Kensington Chelsea

A multi-million pound divorce case in the High Court had to consider an interesting London question this week, the relative safety of some neighbourhoods.

A woman fighting her ex husband for a settlement that includes a £5 million house in Kensington told the court that she felt ‘frightened’ when she left the area. She had rejected alternative homes suggested by her ex valued at around £2.5 million in the ‘less opulent’ areas of Shepherd’s Bush and Battersea.

But was her faith in the security of the Royal Borough misplaced?  As the couple remain anonymous it’s not possible to look at the exact locations of all the homes involved but the crime rates for the different boroughs may offer some surprises.

Affluent and exclusive Kensington and Chelsea has a crime rate of 121 offences per 1,000 residents, according to data from the GLA.  It’s the fourth highest rate in London and well above the city average of 84.

Shepherd’s Bush is in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.  It neighbours Kensington and Chelsea and has a slightly lower crime rate of 113 offences per 1,000 residents.

The more secure option may have been the Battersea home.  Battersea is in the borough of Wandsworth where crime is well below average at 72 per 1,000 people.

The judge, Mrs Justice Roberts, ruled that the alternatives put forward by the ex-husband were in ‘respectable and established family residential areas’.

She said: “Even allowing for the fact that she clearly has an anxious personality, I am not persuaded that any of these areas can be characterised as unsafe or inappropriate, devoid of the kind of amenities usually associated with areas occupied by professional families and others.”

The judge decided that the woman needed a housing fund of £2.5 million not the £5 million she was asking for.

If safety is her utmost concern then she might consider boroughs where the crime rate is less than half that of Kensington and Chelsea. Harrow has the lowest crime rate in London – just 50 crimes per 1,000 residents.  In Bexley the rate is 52 and in Sutton it is just 56.  None, of course, are as fashionable.

Crime rate

Source data

See also

London Borough Profiles












Mayoral Election Issues: Crime and Policing

Police_sagar simkhada shutterstock_333009221-2Like any major city, crime is a big issue for London and one of the key areas of responsibility for the capital’s new Mayor.  The Mayor sets the strategic direction and budget for the Metropolitan Police though a body called MOPAC (Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime).

Since Boris Johnson was re-elected in 2012, fear of crime among Londoners initially fell, but has started to gradually rise since 2014.  At the same time, confidence in the police has moved in the opposite direction – initially rising then falling more recently, according to the Met’s own survey data[1].

Policing 1-2

This fear of crime varies widely across the capital – from almost 50% of the residents of Newham, Hounslow and Brent to just 20% in Richmond.

Policing 2-2

The data shows that there can be a disconnect between fear of crime and the reality. Analysis by Urbs shows that at borough level there is little relation between citizen’s perception of the threat of crime and the actual level[2].  Barnet and Bromley, for example, have similar crime rates, but Barnet’s fear of crime level is over 40% higher than Bromley’s[3].

At city wide level crime has fallen in recent years. Crimes identified by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime as priorities (these include murder, violent assaults, muggings, burglary, theft from cars and criminal damage) are down from a high of around 35,000 crimes to around 25,000 a year. Breaking it down we can see a steady decline from 2008 to 2014, but, despite monthly fluctuations, the line has been stubbornly flat since then.

Policing 3-2

But a flat London-wide trend does not mean the same across the city.  Comparison of the latest 12-months with the previous shows some London boroughs, especially those close to the centre of the city, experiencing quite significant growth in these serious offences while many outer boroughs have enjoyed falls[4].

Policing 4-2

Although the Mayor sets the budget and strategic direction, the job of policing London falls to the Met, one of the biggest police forces in the world.  The force employs 46,000 people – of which 32,000 are police officers – that’s 4 times bigger than any other English police force, and the best resourced in the country by officers per head of population[5].

While police numbers across England and Wales have been cut in recent years, the Met has managed to maintain its resource – with only neighbouring Surrey and Thames Valley having a better trend[6].  These 32,000 officers are not evenly spread across the capital.  Almost 14,000 work in London-wide and specialist operations, including those combating terrorism.  The remaining 18,000 are allocated across the 32 London Boroughs (The City has its own police force)[7].  However, this is not an equal allocation.

Westminster, with its high number of commuting workers, shoppers and tourists, not surprisingly has the largest number of officers out on the streets.  Westminster has 5.4 officers per thousand residents while Barnet has just 1.3. That’s not because Barnet requires little policing; on a measurement of priority crimes per officer, North London looks under-resourced, with 23 crimes per officer in Barnet and Islington, and similar numbers in neighbouring boroughs, compared to just 13 in Kingston or 17 in Merton.   

Poicing 5-2

Keeping London safe has been a mantra for most candidates during the campaigning.  In the wake of attacks in Paris they have talked about ensuring the Met is equipped to meet the threat posed by terrorism.  The strategic balancing act for the Mayor will be to combine this requirement with the public demand for more neighbourhood officers to deal with crime at a local level and to make them feel more secure.

Source data



[3] Crime Rates; Barnet 61, Bromley 60.  Fear of Crime Barnet 40% Bromley 28%.  Source





This report was produced in association with London Live’s special election programme, London Votes.

Police taking a relaxed approach to ban on smoking in cars

Smoking-2The ban on smoking in cars when children are passengers is not being enforced in London.

The law was introduced on October 1st last year to protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke. It is illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying under 18s and both the driver and the smoker, if it’s a different person,  could face fines of £50.

But in response to a Freedom of Information request the Metropolitan Police has revealed that no fixed penalty fines have been issued.  The only incident recorded in the past 5 months was a person given a verbal warning when seen smoking in a car carrying a child on Westminster Bridge.

Anti-smoking campaigners have called for the new law to be enforced.  The Met says that the Department of Health and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children have suggested that a period of education is needed before it starts issuing fines.

See also

Thousands of children sent to hospital because of tooth decay

Teenage survey finds that Richmond has highest level of cannabis use

London losing its thirst for binge drinking

Crimes against religious leaders are creeping upwards

Magistrates Court sign-2Attacks on religion leaders have increased slowly but steadily in the past 4 year.

In 2015 the Metropolitan Police recorded 44 crimes against people whose occupation was listed as vicar or priest.  The Met points out that priest is used to cover religious figures of all faiths as there is no separate listing in its system for imam or rabbi.

The figures disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information request show that in 2012 the number of crimes against clergy was less than half that of last year.

Of the 44 crimes in 2015, 38 were offences categorized as violence against the person. There were 24 cased of harassment – the most common offence – and 14 cases of assault, 2 of them causing grievous bodily harm.

The data shows that these offences of violence have increased over 4 years while other categories, including robbery or sexual offence have remained stable.

Source data

See also

The capital is the most religious region of Britain

Concern about knife crime but rise is small and level well below 2011

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded

Cycle theft declining, but it remains a problem in many central areas

Shoreditch street-2More than 90,000 bikes have been stolen in London over the past 5 years.

Data from the Metropolitan Police shows that you should keep a keen eye on your cycle in Westminster, which has the worst problem. The large number of people in this central area places it top for many categories of crime.

And having lots of fellow cyclists around seems to offer little security.  Hackney has the highest proportion of cyclists in London but there may be as many bike thieves as beards in the hipster capital of the city.  In the last financial year there nearly 1,300 thefts, althougth there has been a steady improvement since the 2011-12 financial year when nearly 1,800 were stolen.

The Metropolitan Police collates data for financial years, and this shows a reduction in thefts over 5 years across the capital, as there has been in Hackney. In 2011-12 there were 23,144 reported thefts.  In 2014-15 that had come down to 17,285. Annually there’s been a decline of up to 10%.Bike theft trend

Central areas have the biggest problem, as previously reported by Urbs.  In the financial year 2014-15 there were more than 1,000 thefts in the central ring of Westminster, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Lambeth.  In contrast, Harrow, Bexley and Havering all had fewer than 150 thefts.  The same pattern is emerging in the data for the first 8 months (April – November) of the current financial year.

Bike theft 2015

Data on the prevalence of cycling in boroughs shows that the areas with the most cyclists and the most bikes are broadly the areas where most thefts occur.

cylcing map

The latest figures for April to November this year show that there have been 12,450 thefts in the 8 months. If the same pattern continues then the total will be similar to 2014-15 but the borough numbers are changing. There have been 232 thefts in Barnet in the past 8 months, more than the total for 2014-15 and at this rate the number will be up by 140 this financial year.

Islington and Tower Hamlets may see around 70 fewer bikes stolen if the current pattern continues, Kensington and Chelsea, nearly 90 fewer.

Source data

See also

Do fewer offences mean better bike behaviour or laxer policing?

Tourists biggest users of Boris Bikes

Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk







As the Met faces cuts to officers, how many patrol your borough?

Police_sagar simkhada shutterstock_333009221-1

Photo: sagar simkhada ┃

How many police officers does it take to keep London safe? As the Metropolitan Police faces up to budget cuts that will see it forced to save around £800m in the next 4 years that is the question facing the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

In an interview with LBC he said: If we could keep at least 30,000 cops, I can make this city safe. If it’s below that, I start to get worried.” With the Commissioner already suggesting that cuts could mean losing 5,000 or more, it seems that he is going to get worried.

The latest data for September this year shows that the Met currently has 31,780 officers. Of those, 18,141 are allocated to what it calls Territorial Policing. That is the day-to-day local policing done at borough level. The largest number is in Westminster, the borough that covers much of central London with large numbers of visitors by day and revelers each night.

Police numbers


The rest are allocated to specialist units covering particular crimes like murder or gang violence, or particular operational areas like air support and mounted police.

The average ratio of officers in Territorial Policing to the population of the boroughs is 2.1 per 1,000 people. It is higher in some central areas, particularly Westminster.

Police numbers ratio pop

Looking at the number of officers in relation to what the Met has identified as priority crimes (violence, robbery, theft, burglary) shows a higher caseload for officers in some North London boroughs. In Brent and Islington there are 23 priority crimes per officer. South of the river in Lambeth and Southwark there are 18 and 19.

Haringey and Lewisham offer a good comparison. They have a similar number of officers and ratios of officers to population, but the rate of priority crimes per officer is 21 in Haringey and 17 in Lewisham.

Police numbers ratio crime

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris Sir Bernard said that he wants to increase the number of armed police in the Specialist Firearms Command above the current 2,000 level. If the cuts are to fall most heavily on Territorial Policing it may be the boroughs in North London that feel the greatest impact.

Source data

See also

The Met fails to reflect the face of people it’s policing

Police Taser some young and elderly, and firing is up steeply in some areas

Concern about knife crime but rise is small and level well below 2011

Thousands reoffend while on probation but rates are declining

Prison sign StockCube.shutterstock_62859043-1

Photo: StockCube ┃

Thousands of offenders who are being supervised by the probation service commit further crimes within 3 months. But the rate of reoffending by those on probation is going down in London. The city has the second lowest rate of reoffending in England and Wales for offenders who are being monitored by the Probation Service.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Justice show that during 2013 the Probation Service across London had a caseload of 92,607. These were offenders under supervision orders – either issued by a court or following their release from prison on license. Out of this caseload, 8.1% reoffended.

At regional level London has the second lowest reoffending rate in England and Wales. Only the West Midlands is lower.

Reoffending regional chart-2

London has had reoffending rates consistently lower than predicted since 2010.

Within London, Hammersmith and Fulham has the worst record with 12.9% committing a further offence while under probation supervision. Kingston, Kensington and Chelsea and Tower Hamlets have rates approaching 10%.

Southwark, Greenwich and Bromley had much better results during 2013. The reoffending rate in Bromley was below 7% while Southwark and Greenwich have rates that have been consistently lower than predicted.

Reoffending map

While these figures indicate some success for the Probation Service they do not show the full picture on reoffending. The data does not include youth crime or offenders over 22 who have been released from a custodial sentence of less than a year, as they do not receive probation supervision.

The broader data on reoffending from the Ministry of Justice shows that the rate for all adult and juveniles, not just those under probation supervision, was 26.5% in England and Wales in 2013, and this rate has been fairly stable since 2003.

The age group with the highest rate of reoffending is those under 14 where 38% commit a further offence within 12 months. People convicted of theft are most likely to reoffend – 43% commit a further crime with 12 months.

Source data

See also

Concern about knife crime but rise is small and level well below 2011

Crime down nearly a third in 5 years on buses, Tube and trains

Crime map shows inner-outer divide

Concern about knife crime but rise is small and level well below 2011

dreamstimesmall_3584076-2Knife crime has risen by a small amount in the last 12 months but it is nowhere near the high point of 2011.

The most recent figures from the Metropolitan Police show that in the 12 months to the end of August this year it went up by 6%. During that period the police recorded 10,058 offences. But 3 years ago the figures were much worse. In the 12 months to the end of November 2011 there were 14,570 recorded offences.

It then fell by 35% to its lowest point in recent times in November last year before beginning to rise again slowly.

knife crime

The figures for knife crime with injury where someone was actually cut or stabbed rather than threatened show a similar pattern, falling from a peak of 4,200 in the 12 months to the end of March 2010 to a lowest point in April 2014, since when it has risen slightly.

The chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, has linked levels of knife crime with a reduction in use of powers where officers can stop and search  people if they have reasonable grounds to believe that they are carrying drugs, a weapon or stolen property. In a public criticism the Home Secretary Theresa May described that as a knee-jerk reaction.

The figures for the stop and search have fallen from a peak of 527,000 in the 12 months ending March 2011 to just 149,000 in the 12 months to August 2015.

stop and search

This is a steady drop from peak to trough of 71% and does not have an obvious correlation with knife crime which was falling for much of the period as stop and search was falling.

Source data

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded

The Met fails to reflect the face of people it’s policing



The Met fails to reflect the face of people it’s policing

© 1000words |

Photo: © 1000words |

The ethnic make up of the Metropolitan Police is hugely out of line with the people it is policing. 3,729 of the Met’s 31,877 officers are classified as BME. That is 11.7% but the population of the capital is 40% black and ethnic.

Broken down by rank the numbers show an even more serious lack of representation at some levels. At Constable level 13% of officers are BME. But at senior level it is half that rate. Just 2 of the 29 Chief Officers, that’s the most senior people above the rank of Chief Superintendent, are black or minority ethnic by origin.

And there appears to be an even more serious problem among middle ranking officers. Only 2.7% of Chief Inspectors and 5.9% of Inspectors in the Met are black or other minority ethnic, according to the latest figures from the Home Office.

Police BME

The Metropolitan Police has the highest proportion of officers who identify themselves as Black or other Minority Ethnic of any force in England and Wales.

The rates are worse for the much smaller City of London force. 43 of its 739 officers are BME, that’s 5.8%. And there are none above the rank of Chief Inspector.  They are pollicing an areas where the resident population is is 22% black and other minority ethnic.

4 forces in England and Wales, Cheshire, Durham, North Yorkshire and Dyfed-Powys, have no black officers.

The Met has been trying to address the problem since the Macpherson Report into the investigation of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence branded it as “institutionally racist”.

The proportion of BME officers has been increasing steadily but missing targets. In 2005 the proportion of BME officers was half the current rate at 6.9%. And recruitment of black officers has improved. In 2014 more than 500 recruits, or 16% of the total, were BME.

The Labour candidate for Mayor, Sadiq Khan, says that he would introduce a quota system to try to address the disparity.

Much more will need to be done before that faces of the Met and the City of London force reflect the populations that they are policing.

Source data

See also

Met reveals record on race discrimination: 245 complaints, no misconduct

Police Taser some young and elderly, and firing is up steeply in some areas

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded

Met reveals record on race discrimination: 245 complaints, no misconduct

dreamstimesmall_48892827The Metropolitan Police examined 245 complaints of racial discrimination by its officers in the 12-month period to the end of February this year. In 240 cases no action was taken, with complaints dismissed or officers judged to have no case to answer.

In 5 cases the complaint did lead to “management action”, usually after some form of local resolution that may have included an apology or acceptance that an incident could have been better handled. The Met says that this does not amount to formal misconduct and management action can include pointing out to an officer how his/her behavior fell short of expected standards.

The information was revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request. According to the data some officers were subject of several complaints and 5 officers had 4 complaints against them.

The largest number of incidents took place in Lewisham with 22. Other boroughs with a high number of complaints were Greenwich, 17, and Enfield and Wandsworth with 16. The rest were spread across the boroughs although none was recorded in Hackney.

In addition to these 245 racial discrimination complaints that have been dealt with there were a further 152 during the period March 1st 2014 to February 28th 2015 that are still being investigated.

In making the data available the Met said: “Where the conduct of staff is proven to have fallen below the standards of behavior expected, the MPS will take robust action to ensure that its staff are appropriately disciplined and that lessons are learnt from each case.

The Commissioner has stated publicly that there is no place for racism and prejudice within the MPS.”

Over the same period complaints were also received for discrimination on other grounds, this includes: age;2, disabililty;7, gender;15, homophobic;10, mental health;14, religion;14, and 17 others that are not defined. None of these complaints was upheld.

Source data

See also

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded

Police Taser some young and elderly, and firing is up steeply in some areas

Time to celebrate but there’s no pride in a rise in homophobic attacks