Christmas Crime Hotspots

Christmas Crime Hotspots 2023

December 14 2023

2023’s hottest spots for Christmas crime in the UK unveiled 

As the holiday season unfolds, for many, it is time for loved ones to come together, indulge in festive food, binge-watch their favourite Christmas movies and, of course, open presents! 

However, amid the holiday cheer and festivities, it unfortunately presents a sobering reality: the notable increase in criminal activity. The combination of decorations, valuable items and allure of beautifully wrapped gifts creates an environment where ‘Grinches’ find ample opportunities. 

Fortunately, proactive measures can be taken, such as installing a burglar alarm or a smart alarm system, to ensure a safe and secure celebration for you and your family this year.

Looking back at last year’s Christmas Crime Hotspots, we saw Hampshire come out on top as the country’s crime hotspot during the festive period, while robbery and theft offenses, such as burglary, were some of the highest police-recorded crimes. 

To reveal whether the top crime hotspots have changed or remained the same, we unveil where the most ‘Grinches’ are in England and Wales, highlighting the regions and areas with the highest crime rates and if there has been an increase in theft offenses.  

Police force areas with the highest crime rates

Cleveland Police

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 147.7

After a year, Cleveland Police still had the highest crime rate, with approximately 147.7 recorded crimes per 1,000 population. The non-metropolitan county in North East England had over 5,000 police reports of burglaries in early 2023, 79% of which were residential burglaries, according to ONS data. 

West Yorkshire Police

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 133.8

West Yorkshire Police also stays in second place. However, despite not moving positions, crimes in the county have risen by 20%, going from a crime rate of 111.61 in December 2021 to 133.8 crimes per 1,000 population by March 2023. Theft offences were one of the most significant crimes reported by police, constituting a quarter of all criminal acts in West Yorkshire.

Greater Manchester Police

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 129.7

Once again, Greater Manchester Police ranks third for the areas with the highest crime rates in England and Wales, with 129.7 crimes per 1,000 population. Theft offences accounted for almost a third of all crimes committed by March 2023, while residential burglaries and shoplifting had over 16,000 reported accounts, respectively.  

Regions with the highest crime rates 

Yorkshire and The Humber 

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 114.1

Yorkshire and The Humber tops the list as the UK region with the highest crime rate. As of March 2023, the region had more than 625,000 recorded crimes, with theft offences, public order offences and shoplifting being some of the biggest culprits. Almost 34,000 police-recorded accounts of burglaries, with nearly three-quarters of these being residential burglaries.  

North East

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 110.0

The North East is the region with the second highest crime rate. Although the North East has the lowest number of reported crimes across any other region, the rate at which crime occurs per 1,000 population is 110.0, with Northumbria (49%) being the biggest crime culprit in the area. 

Some of the most common crime offences include violence against the person, theft offences and criminal damage and arson, while residential burglaries received over 10,000 reports. 

North West

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 107.5

North West ranks third with 107.5 crimes per 1,000 population. Greater Manchester is the most significant crime contributor in the region, accounting for nearly half of all recorded crimes in early 2023. Merseyside (21%) and Lancashire (16%) are also major crime contributors. The North West has an overall crime rate of 107.5 per 1,000 population.

UK crime hotspots by police force area

 

Metropolitan Police

Total recorded crime: 880,284

The Metropolitan Police Force area has the highest number of recorded crimes. The area has over 42% more recorded criminal offences than any other across England and Wales, with 880,284 total crimes as of March 2023. Theft offences were the most significant in the Metropolitan Police Force, with a staggering 412,352 reported cases. The area also had over 54,000 burglaries, more than 37,000 of which were residential. 

Greater Manchester Police 

Total recorded crime: 371,988

Next up is the Greater Manchester Police force, with over 370,000 recorded crimes. Some of the most common criminal offences in the area include violence against the person, criminal damage, and arson. On the other hand,  bicycle thefts, robbery and possession of weapons offences had the lowest reports.   

West Midlands Police 

Total recorded crime: 367,206

The West Midlands Police area is the third hottest area for crime in the UK, totalling 367,206 by March 2023. Accounting for 61% of the crimes in its entire region, it's no surprise that the West Midlands makes it into the top three. Like many other areas, theft offences are one of the most common crimes in the area, with over 111,500 police reports by March 2023. 

UK crime hotspots by region 

 

Greater London

Total recorded crime: 887,870

Greater London has the highest number of total recorded crimes in the UK. With an estimated 887,870 reports of crime, the Metropolitan Police Force is the most significant crime contributor in the region, accounting for 99% of crimes, which is primarily made up of all the London boroughs part of the City of London. Boroughs such as Camden, Kensington & Chelsea and Islington have the highest crime rates. 

North West

Total recorded crime: 797,868

The North West follows closely behind, with 797,868 criminal offences as of early 2023. Theft offences in the region accounted for a quarter of all recorded crimes, the second highest offence, just after violence against the person. By March 2023, there were almost 40,000 burglaries, nearly three-quarters being residential burglaries. 

South East

Total recorded crime: 737,888

The South East is one of the country’s top crime hotspots, with 737,888 recorded crimes. Violence without injury, stalking, harassment, and public order offences are some of the most commonly recorded crimes. The biggest crime contributors in the region include Thames Valley (25%), Hampshire (24%) and Kent (24%). 

London boroughs with the highest crime rates 

Camden

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 144.88

Camden tops the list as the London borough with the highest crime rate as of June 2023. The police-recorded number of crimes in Camden is 144.88 per 1,000 population, significantly higher than the average for the Metropolitan Police force area, which is 100.32. 

Crime offences such as robbery, burglary and shoplifting were also much higher in Camden than the overall force average. 

Kensington & Chelsea

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 140.62

Kensington & Chelsea follows suit with a crime rate of 140.62 per 1,000 population in June 2023. Despite being a more affluent area of London, Kensington & Chelsea saw spikes in crimes such as criminal damage and arson, the highest in December 2022 with a rate of 2.04. This is not only higher than the force average (1.48), but it is also the highest across the past three years. 

Islington

Crime rate per 1,000 population: 120.40

Islington completes the top three London boroughs with the highest crime rates, averaging 120.40 crime offences per 1,000 population. Burglary in Islington spiked in December 2022 (2.11), significantly higher than the force average of 1.60 and the highest since 2021.

Interestingly, although shoplifting in Islington was still higher than the force average of 1.11, it saw a drastic dip during the festive period last year, going down to a rate of 1.24, much lower than in June 2023 (2.31).

The biggest increases in crime offences 

To reveal the crime offences with the biggest percentage increases, we take a closer look at the most recent quarter (Apr-Jun 2023) to determine which criminal acts have risen the most when compared to the same quarter in 2022. 

To get a full-year perspective, we also compare the first (Jan-Mar) and last quarter (Oct-Dec) of 2022 to find out which offences grew the most in the span of just one year.

Robbery

Quarterly % change Apr to Jun 2022-23: 11.78%

Robbery tops the list once more as the crime offence that has increased most recently. In 2021, crime grew by 38.11%. However, between April and June 2022-23, it rose by 11.78%, the highest among all other crime offences in 2023. 

In 2022, robbery also had the most significant increase (12.99%) compared to all other criminal activities. Interestingly, the last quarter of the year (Oct-Dec 2022) had the highest number of robberies in the entire year, with over 18,800 robbery reports.  

Possession of weapons offences

Quarterly % change Apr to Jun 2022-23: 6.73%

Possession of weapons offences has risen significantly in the last year. In 2021’s quarter comparison, it was in seventh place. However, in the most recent quarter (Apr to Jun 2022-23), there was a 6.73% rise in crimes of this nature across the country. 

Despite an increase in 2023, possession of weapons offences was slightly more prevalent throughout the previous year. For example, there was almost an 8% increase when comparing the first and last quarters of 2022. 

Miscellaneous crimes against society

Quarterly % change Apr to Jun 2022-23:

Though it wasn’t in the top ten last year, miscellaneous crimes against society ranks third this year with one of the biggest increases in crime offences. This is a combination of different types of crimes committed against the community, and it was the most prevalent during the first quarter of 2023 (Jan-Mar 2023), with almost 31,000 reported crimes.

Areas with the biggest crime increase during the festive period 

Lincolnshire

% change from Dec 2021-22: 16.53%

Lincolnshire takes the crown as the UK’s top crime hotspot, especially during the festive season. Although Hampshire took the top spot last year, Lincolnshire saw the highest increase in December 2022. Crime in the county has risen by 16.53% compared to last December and by 14.82% since 2020. 

Due to the surge in criminal activity during Christmas, Lincolnshire Police are warning residents not to keep their presents under the Christmas tree as piling festive gifts is a "big advert" to thieves looking to steal high-value items.1 

Staffordshire

% change from Dec 2021-22: 15.74%

Despite being in tenth place on the list last year, Staffordshire has skyrocketed to second place, with holiday crimes increasing by 15.74% as of December 2022. The ceremonial county has seen an even more significant spike in crime since December 2020, with a rise of almost 40%. 

The Staffordshire Police are urging residents to ensure their homes are secure this winter as figures show a significant rise in crimes. The force area stated that they typically see a spike in residential burglaries in the run-up to Christmas.2

Durham

% change from Dec 2021-22: 12.61%

Though not in the top ten last year, Durham made it into the top three crime hotspots this year with a 12.61% increase in crime as of December 2022. In the previous two years, the area has also seen a rise of over 17% in crime since December 2020, highlighting a steady crime growth during the festive period. 

The increase in crime is especially characterised by the number of burglaries taking place just weeks before Christmas. In a particular case, burglars raided a family home in County Durham, reportedly stealing treasured possessions worth around £1,5000 during a break-in. This emphasises the importance of having a good home security system.3

Local areas with the biggest crime increase during the festive period 

City of Westminster, Metropolitan Police

% change from Dec 2021-22: 35.78%

Much like last year, the City of Westminster once again comes out on top as the local crime hotspot, with an increase of 35.78% between December 2021 and December 2022. The London borough also has seen the highest percentage in crime over the last two with a whopping 126.76% rise in crimes during the holidays. 

Gloucester, Gloucestershire 

% change from Dec 2021-22: 16.24%

Ranked in second place is Gloucester, which grew by 16.24% regarding reported crimes. It is also one of the highest areas to have increased the number of reported crimes over the past two years, with an overall growth of almost  56% since December 2020. 

To prevent further crimes, the Gloucestershire Constabulary are relaunching a Christmas operation through their neighbourhood policing team to help keep the public safe from anti-social behaviour and theft.4

Darlington, Durham

% change from Dec 2021-22: 12.18%

Darlington completes the top three local crime hotspots with 12.18% growth in crime from December 2021 to December 2022. This is just a little less than the town’s two-year percentage increase of 13.08%. More specifically, Darlington experienced a spike in burglaries during the holidays (December 2022), with a rate of 1.41, much higher than that of Durham (1.15).5

Home security expert Michele Bennett, General Manager at ADT UK Subscriber, shares exclusive insight on how best to deter uninvited guests from your home during the Christmas period: 

“During the festive season, it is important to remain vigilant by enhancing your home security. This will ensure you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable holiday experience. 

Several proactive measures can be taken to deter intruders throughout the holidays. Installing visible security measures such as smart alarm systems or burglar alarms is one of the best ways to discourage potential thieves. Visible cameras and alarms display signs that indicate your home is highly protected. Therefore, the perception of security can be a powerful deterrent. 

Also, secure your doors, windows, and other potential entry points with strong locks and deadbolts. For windows, you can use dowel rods or window locks.

Indoor and outdoor lighting is a good option to maintain a lived-in appearance. Using smart plugs connected to lights, motion-sensing cameras, and video doorbells in and around entrances and other key areas of your home makes it less attractive to burglars. 

If you already have an alarm system, ensure you set it even when inside your home. Consider installing motion sensors in your home's key areas and entry points. Connect them to your security system to alert you if any unusual activity is detected. 

The combination of these measures can drastically improve your home’s security, as the appearance of an active and protected home is crucial to deterring potential intruders during Christmas and throughout the year.”

Methodology 

We used ONS data to determine how much Christmas Crime Hotspots have changed in the last year. Looking at the quarterly crime offences, we gathered data from the most recent dataset (June 2023, Table QT1), considering the year-on-year percentage change by quarter. 

For the total number of recorded crimes, we used the March 2023 (Table P1) data set, which had the latest information on crime figures and was then ranked to find the areas and regions with the highest crimes. 

We also calculated the crime rates per 1,000 for each location and region. It is important to note that the City of London was taken out due to a small population sample. The total recorded crime for all regions and areas excludes fraud.  

To determine the percentage of crime over time, we used Police.UK to collect data on the crime rates over three years (Dec 2020-22), highlighting the percentage difference in crime during the festive period in different police force areas over the last few years. 

We also highlighted the local areas with the highest crime rates and ranked them to find which has the highest percentage increase in crime. 

Using the same source, we gathered data on the London boroughs with the highest crime rates as of June 2023 and ranked them to find out where London has the highest crime rate. Please note that we took out the City of Westminster as its crime rate was much higher than any other London borough due to population size. 

All data collection was completed on 06/12/2023. 

References 

1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-67613815 

2. https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/news/staffordshire/news/2023/november/be-sure-youre-secure-this-winter/ 

3. https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/our-christmas-isnt-going-same-28202155 

4. https://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/news/gloucestershire/news/cheltenham-neighbourhood-policing-team-relaunch-operation-cracker/ 

5. https://www.police.uk/pu/your-area/durham-constabulary/performance/compare-your-area/?tc=DAR7 

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