Christmas Crime Hotspots
Christmas is always a special time of the year, filled with joy, laughter and making lasting memories. Unfortunately, however, it is also the best time for crime to occur as research has shown that there is an increased risk of theft and home burglaries taking place during the holidays.
Amid all the festivities it is important to ensure your home is kept safe and secure – but how do you protect your home from uninvited guests?
One of the best ways to keep your home safe from theft during the festive period is by having a burglar alarm installed. This not only helps prevent intruders from attempting to break into your property but it will also give you peace of mind.
For a greater level of security, it is also essential to consider investing in a video doorbell or outdoor cameras. Having this extra layer of protection means you don’t have to worry about having an unexpected visitor, especially if you plan on going away for the holidays.
To help you stay safe this Christmas, we at ADT took a closer look at just how much crime happens over the festive season. Our research analyses where most offences occur and how crime rates change across the UK during this time of the year. We also reveal our expert tips on how to keep your home protected this Christmas.
The UK's top crime hotspots
YoY% change from Dec 2020-21: 33.82%
Hampshire takes the top spot as the area with the highest year-on-year change in crime rates. When comparing the rate of crime in December 2020 to that of December 2021, this South East county showed an increase of 33.82%. This level of increase shows the rise in crime that occurs primarily during the festive period compared to other times of the year.
What’s more, it was reported that the Hampshire police force issued a warning for residents to protect their homes towards the lead-up to Christmas. This led to local neighbourhoods with the highest reports of burglaries being patrolled by the police.
YoY% change from Dec 2020-21: 32.32%
The rate of Christmas crime is also on the rise in Gloucestershire. In second place, this South West county witnessed a growth in offence rates with an increase of 32.32% last year.
With an estimated population of 640,700, over 18,600 recorded crimes were a result of violence against the person. The second biggest crime contributor was theft offences with a total of 10,878 by the year ending December 2021.
YoY% change from Dec 2020-21: 31.05%
In third place is Merseyside with an increase of 31.05% in crime rates from December 2020 to December 2021. This rise is also considerably higher than the rate of crime in December 2019 which showed an 18.84% increase over the last two years.
The year-on-year increase in crime in the Merseyside area doesn’t seem to be slowing down either as just last year the police issued a warning regarding two homes that were burgled over the weekend leading up to Christmas. This resulted in two bikes being stolen from different households.
Police force areas with the highest local crime rates
1. Metropolitan Police - City of Westminster
YoY% change from Dec 2020 - 21: 66.86%
According to research, the City of Westminister is the most dangerous borough in London. This region alone has a crime rate of 237.74 which is significantly higher than the Metropolitan Police force average of 93.25.
More interestingly, despite seeing a drastic decline of -12.68% in its year-on-year change from December 2019 - 2021, this didn’t last long. In just the span of 12 months, the crime rate in the City of Westminister saw a huge spike with the number of criminal incidents rising by 66.86% by December 2021. This is far above any other local area.
2. North Wales - Denbighshire
YoY% change from Dec 2020 - 21: 37.38%
Though not as drastic, Denbighshire also saw a relatively high year-on-year change in its crime rate which had risen to 37.38% by the end of December 2021. This showed a considerable amount of change compared to the two years prior which was a 14.00% increase from December 2019-21.
Considering that the county has a history of chancers who have stolen Christmas trees in the past, its steady increase in criminal incidents perhaps comes as no surprise.
3. Merseyside - Liverpool
YoY% change from Dec 2020 - 21: 34.17%
Liverpool comes in as the third crime hotspot on our list. During the Christmas period last year, crime rates in the city jumped to 34.17%. This is relatively higher than December 2019-21 which had a year-on-year increase of 16.30%.
Moreover, not only does the city have the highest rate of crime offences in its local area (145.23), but it also poorly compares to Merseyside’s police force average of 116.54.
Police-recorded crime offences
Percentage change - Jan to Mar 2021 and Oct to Dec 2021: 38.11%
Classed as a crime committed against a person, robbery offences take the top spot with the highest percentage increase in crime occurrences in December 2021. Sadly, Christmas is no stranger to thieves who view the festive period to be nothing but an incentive to commit a crime.
From October to December 2021, there were approximately 17,580 criminal incidents primarily related to robberies. This is 38.11% higher when compared to the first quarter of the same calendar year.
2. Theft offences
Percentage change - Jan to Mar 2021 and Oct to Dec 2021: 35.10%
Over the years, there has been a rise in the number of theft offences. Unlike Robbery, theft is a crime committed against a person’s property. As a matter of fact, the rate of reported theft saw a significant increase during Christmas.
Not only did the rate of theft increase by 13% since the last quarter of 2020 but crime rates also more than doubled since then. The number of criminal incidents from October-December 2021 to the first quarter of the same year shows a massive difference of 35.10%.
Considering 400,761 theft offences were recorded by police forces across England and Wales in just the last quarter of 2021 alone, this perhaps comes as no surprise.
3. Sexual offences
Percentage change - Jan to Mar 2021 and Oct to Dec 2021: 32.35%
Unfortunately, the rate of sexual offences saw an increase of 32.35% from October to December 2021 in comparison to its first-quarter figures.
Other sexual offences such as stalking and harassment accounted for the majority of these crimes. Not only did the level of criminal acts committed increase from 37,711 to 49,910 by the last quarter of the year, but when compared to October-December 2020, sexual offences had risen by 33 %.
This suggests that the months leading up to Christmas really do have a huge impact on the level of criminal acts.
Most recorded crimes by area
1. West Midlands
Percentage of total recorded crimes year ending Dec 2020 and Dec 21: 32.24%
Research shows that the West Midlands experienced the highest percentage change when looking at the number of recorded crimes for the year ending December 2021 in comparison to its previous year.
The region’s year-on-year percentage change showed that the level of crime in this area increased by 32.24% towards the end of December last year. Due to the fact that the festive season is a big driving factor for huge crowds, it is highly likely that this resulted in a spike in crime occurrences, especially considering that possession of weapons was the highest contributing crime.
Percentage of total recorded crimes year ending Dec 2020 and Dec 21: 26.53%
The Welsh region, Dyfed-Powys, recorded a total of 26.53% difference in crime rates (excluding fraud) for the year ending December 2021 in comparison to December 2020.
Taking second place, the Dyfed-Powys police force area recorded theft from the person as the most committed crime in the area. This, therefore, highlights the heightened risk of theft during the Christmas season.
3. Greater Manchester
Percentage of total recorded crimes year ending Dec 2020 and Dec 21: 26.43%
The Greater Manchester area comes in third place on our list. Having one of the highest crime rates in the country, this region saw a year-on-year difference of 26.43% by December 2021.
Studies have shown that the Christmas period often brings with it a reported increase in abusive behaviour. Therefore, this explains the rise in criminal incidents, especially considering that stalking and harassment was a major contributor to the overall crime rate in this region.
Monthly recorded crime offences
1. Sexual offences
Percentage change from Jan-Dec 2021: 34.23%
Approximately 357,655 sexual offences were recorded by police in England and Wales by December 2021. This is over 50,000 more cases than in December 2020 and an estimated 76,551 more than in January 2021.
As a result, not only was there an increase of 34.23% from January to December 2021 but this highlights that people are more at risk of experiencing sexual assault during the months leading up to the festive season than they are at other times of the year.
2. Robbery offences
Percentage change from Jan-Dec 2021: 32.82%
Despite having serious charges attached, robbery offences continue to rise in the UK. There was an 8.61% change in crime rates from December 2020 to December 2021. This year-on-year increase highlights a strong correlation between the rise in crime rates and its association with Christmas.
Research also shows that crimes related to robberies were 32.82% more in December than in January. This spike in crime rates implies that the festive period greatly impacted the level of crime that occurred that year.
3. Public order offences
Percentage change from Jan-Dec 2021: 31.90%
Public order offences takes third place with an increase of 31.90% from January to December 2021.
Statutory offences relating to public order primarily take into account antisocial behaviours such as riots, violent disorder, and affray. During the Christmas season, these offences tend to be on the rise, especially due to an increase in alcohol consumption.
Moreover, the number of public order offences witnessed an increase of 7,000 from December 2020 when compared to December 2021, whilst figures rose from 31,881 in January 2021 to 42,052 by the end of the year.
Crime rate by population
Crime rate per 1,000 population: 114.80
Despite being one of the smallest geographical police force areas in England and Wales, Cleveland had the highest total recorded crime rate per person.
Not only does this region boast an offence rate of 129.45 which is higher than any other region in the UK, but with a population of 569,800, Cleveland had an average crime rate of 114.80 per 1,000 population by the end of December 2021.
With Christmas time being the perfect playground for opportunistic criminals, it comes as no surprise that theft offences played the biggest role in the number of recorded crimes. Shoplifting was, in fact, the highest rate of offence in Teesside. This led to the launch of a crime prevention initiative for local retailers over the Christmas period.
2. West Yorkshire
Crime rate per 1,000 population: 111.61
West Yorkshire sits in second place with a total crime rate of 111.61 per 1,000 population.
Interestingly, the county also had one of the highest crime rates on average in the whole of the UK, with stalking and harassment being a major contributing factor. As a matter of fact, just last year, a man was reportedly attacked at his home in Bramley on Christmas day.
3. Greater Manchester
Crime rate per 1,000 population: 106.76
As one of the largest regions in the UK, the Greater Manchester area achieved the third-highest total crime rate of 106.76 per 1,000 population in December 2021.
Figures show that out of an estimated population of over 2.8 million, the most common crime was violence against the person, this alone has a crime rate of 45.83. This is still very much apparent as even a year later armed officers are being deployed to patrol the Manchester Christmas Markets due to the increase in robbery and knife crime.
Top five tips to keep your home safe this Christmas
1. Set your alarm
One of the best things you can do to keep your home safe and secure this Christmas is to ensure you get a burglar alarm installed. Alarms not only act as a great visual deterrent to opportunistic thieves, but they also provide a great way of notifying you and people you nominate whenever the alarm is activated.
With ADT your alarm is professionally installed by a trained home security engineer for maximum coverage and effectiveness and monitored 24/7/365 by our dedicated alarm receiving centre, even on Christmas Day.
2. Invest in a video doorbell and outdoor cameras
With built-in motion sensors, your doorbell or cameras will be able to detect whenever someone is approaching your home. You will then receive a notification, this enables you to access both live and recorded footage from either device.
Your doorbell or cameras can also work with smart plugs to switch on lamps inside your home which gives the appearance of occupancy when they detect motion. You can also simply see and speak to whoever is at the door, whether you’re home or not.
3. Double-check your doors and windows
Doors and windows act as potential entry points for uninvited guests. That’s why it is important to ensure that all your doors and windows are properly locked whenever you plan on leaving the house.
4. Keep all Christmas presents and valuables out of sight
As simple as this may sound, it is very easy to get swept up in all the fun and excitement of the festive season that you forget to put your Christmas presents and valuables out of sight. Doing this makes a big difference as it won’t attract unwanted attention.
5. Be careful when posting Christmas gifts on social media
It is always tempting to share on social media what you got for Christmas but be mindful that posting your valuables, and your location for that matter, can easily make your home an easy target for potential intruders.
All information regarding crime rates was taken from the Office for National Statistics website. The datasets used were from the year ending December 2021 as well as the year ending June 2022 for the most current figures. Each dataset took into account the area, quarterly figures and monthly statistics of a crime survey for England and Wales and also from the Home Office police recorded crimes.
For the data for the areas with the most crime hotspots, we had a look at various areas across England and Wales using the Police.UK website.