Regardless of whether you’re looking to make the move eastward to start a family, or you’re planning to set up a business in one of the thriving cities and towns, understanding the figures on crime is essential in making an informed decision.
As one of the UK’s leading providers of bespoke security solutions, Churchill Support Services understand the importance of knowing how safe your area is, which is why we’ve collated the crime statistics on all of the key areas of Eastern England.
This data comes straight from local police forces and independent resources to give you an unbiased, comprehensive overview.
We’ll break it down by county, and look at the major towns and cities that contribute towards that crime rate, as well as the safest and most dangerous areas in the east of England.
We’ve aggregated reported crimes of all types, using data from local police forces and analytics company Brighton Analytics, to provide a ratio of how many people per 1,000 residents could expect to be a victim of crime.
You’ll see each region represented this way, along with a breakdown of any standout statistics, and key information on the different kinds of crime that make up those statistics.
We’ve also highlighted some of the larger towns and cities in each county, so you can make the best decision for your business and its security.
One of England’s most diverse regions, with a patchwork landscape of farms, forests and fertile land, the East plays host to a wide range of lifestyles. From England’s largest container port at Felixstowe, to the rugged coastlines of Essex and Norfolk, it’s a melting pot of culture and commerce.
Overall, the region has a relatively modest crime rate of 74 crimes per 1,000 residents, meaning it ranks among the 5 safest areas of the United Kingdom.
The most common crimes across the region by some margin are violence and sexual offences (206,169 offences over the year), but drug (13994 incidents) and public order offences (46542 incidents) have seen rises in recent years, prompting increased investment in East England security services.
Comprising the boroughs of Luton, Bedford and Central Bedfordshire, the historic county of Bedfordshire has a modest crime rate in comparison to the rest of the UK, with around 73 crimes occurring per 1,000 residents.
From picturesque villages and serpentine country roads, to the major national hub of Luton Airport, Bedfordshire plays host to a wide array of ways and walks of life.
Crime rates have stayed relatively consistent across the region, with certain offences (including robbery and burglary) seeing a steady reduction thanks to bolstered police forces and increased investment in security and local economies.
However, where certain areas are seeing a gradual decline in the number of incidents, serious offences (such as sexual assault, drugs, and weapon possession) still represent a cause for concern, being three of the primary contributors towards Bedfordshire’s overall crime rate.
As you might expect, the more built-up, urbanised areas of Luton and Bedford represent a significant portion of Bedfordshire’s overall crime rate (we’ll touch more on these shortly), but other areas also see a slight spike in their crime rates.
For instance, Houghton Regis has a crime rate that belies its small size, with a rate of 81 crimes per 1000 residents in the central Bedfordshire town. In fact, its rate of anti-social behaviours offences (537 incidents) is more than 65% higher than the rest of the region.
Generally, though, smaller towns have better crime rates across Bedfordshire, with Ampthill being the safest area by a considerable margin (21.3 crimes per 1000 residents).
Bedfordshire’s largest town, and home to everything from medieval architecture to modern amenities, Bedford is often what many think of when they imagine the county. A thriving market town, it encapsulates everything unique about its county namesake.
However, while there’s a strong presence of culture and arts, it does have the highest crime rate of the county, with 108 crimes per 1000 residents. While this is largely down to a larger population, it’s vital we understand what makes up these statistics, in the interest of security for your Bedford business.
The most common offences were violence and sexual crimes (3814 incidents), but there were also high rates in other concerning areas, such as anti-social behaviour (1910 incidents), public order offences (1088 incidents), and vehicle crime (908 incidents).
Of particular note too is Bedford’s high rate of bicycle theft (441 offences), which is over 2 and a half times the county average.
While many instantly associate the town with its national airport, Luton offers far more than that. From its roots as a prominent hat-making town, to the rolling landscape of the Chiltern Hills, Luton has long since cemented its place as one of the largest and most prosperous towns in Bedfordshire.
Its crime rate unfortunately reflects its growing status as one of Bedfordshire’s largest centres for business, with an estimated 89 crimes per 1000 people, and a high proportion of violence and sexual crime (7832 offences).
However, tightening Luton security and increased police investment has meant that crime has steadily been declining or remaining consistent, although high figures still remain in drug offences (923 offences) and weapon possession (348 offences).
Often only associated with the prestigious university, the county of Cambridgeshire offers far more than academia. Its place as a centre of culture and art for the east of England ensures it’s well visited by tourists and residents alike, plus with major metropolises that include Peterborough and Cambridge itself provide a thriving centre for retail and business.
However, while Cambridgeshire’s illustrious history paints one picture, the crime rate paints an entirely different one. With a crime rate of 93.1 crimes per 1000 residents, the county has the second highest rate in East England.
The county’s most common crime were those of a violent or sexual nature (27,838 offences), although high statistics across anti-social behaviour (11,169 offences) and public order offences (7632 incidents) still pose a cause for concern among residents and businesses alike.
However, the county certainly has its calmer and more crime-free areas. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the safer areas of the county are the quieter towns and villages, with Yaxley having a crime rate 50 points below the county’s overall rate at 43.1 crimes per 1000 residents.
Home to the second-oldest university in England, and often associated with affluence and luxury, Cambridge has the prestige and celebrated history to warrant its position as a popular tourist and academic hotspot.
However, what’s often not considered is the crime rate of the city, and Cambridge falls just above the county average, at around 100 crimes per 1000 residents. As with much of the UK, violence and sexual crime makes up a significant percentage of that crime rate, with 5177 offences making up almost 30% of the city’s crime.
There’s clearly other risks to Cambridge security, though, with shoplifting (1396 offences) and theft (2403 offences) making up over 10% of the total crime in the area.
One of England’s largest cathedral cities, Peterborough has seen countless improvements and developments over recent years, all of which have made it a modern hub for businesses and families alike.
The city is also home to a wide range of listed buildings, and retains a key sense of its history. However, this is offset by the city’s statistics on crime.
Peterborough unfortunately heads up the major areas of the county, with a crime rate higher than the region’s average at 108.45 crimes per 1,000 residents. That includes over 4,400 incidents of violent crime, as well as high figures in criminal damage (2,294 offences) and assault (2,009 incidents).
As one of the traditional home counties, and with a deep and storied history dating back to the Romans and Anglo-Saxons, Essex is arguably one of the more instantly recognisable English counties. Home to England’s largest coastline, and fringed by Epping Forest, it’s undoubtedly a verdant and fertile corner of Britain.
However, its large towns and cities, alongside its proximity to London, means that Essex has the highest crime rate across Eastern England, with just under 119 crimes per 1000 residents.
The county as a whole has a huge issue with violence and sexual offences, with over 71,000 incidents reported in the last year, making up over 40% of the total crime in Essex. Unfortunately, though, this is just the tip of the iceberg with Essex crime statistics.
Essex does have its safer areas, though. These are generally smaller, quainter villages and towns, with areas like Wivenhoe (35.1 crimes per 1000 people) and Hawkley (37.5 crimes per 1000 people) falling well below the county’s overall crime rate.
Essex’s largest town, and one that has strong roots in industry and commerce, Basildon presents a clear choice for the conscientious business owner who’s looking to the future. It’s a diverse landscape, too, ranging from huge shopping centres, to cultural landmarks like libraries and museums.
However, while the town itself paints a positive picture, Basildon’s crime rate of 163.2 crimes per 1000 residents makes it not only the most dangerous area of Essex, but one of more unsafe places across the UK.
The key contributor is the high figures in violence and sexual crime (7469 offences), which account for over 40% of all the crime in Basildon. High figures in drug abuse (567 offences) and weapon possession (206 offences) complete a description that prompts more focus on Basildon security.
A premier seaside destination nestled on the Essex coastline, Southend’s real daw doesn’t lie in its beaches and cliffsides, but in its emerging business market. The city has grown exponentially over the last few years, and that means better investment and resources for businesses.
However, an increased rate of crime comes with that rapid growth, with the coastal town of Southend having a crime rate of 112 crimes per 1000 residents, and the bulk of these crimes being violence and sexual assault (10,317 offences)
There’s also high rates of anti-social behaviour (3520 incidents), public order offences (2335 incidents), and criminal damage (1721 incidents).
Another of the home counties, and largely dominated by agricultural and green belt land, Hertfordshire’s lower crime rate (80.5 crime per 1000 people) is thanks in part to its rurality and quaint towns and villages.
It’s also home to a wide array of tourist attractions and historical sites, such as the Welwyn Roman Baths and the Harry Potter Studio Tour. This is all alongside the county’s strong business links, and exceptional routes into London.
However, despite these obvious draws, urban areas in Hertfordshire still have a clear and present danger, especially with violent crime and sexual offences. In the last year alone, there was 28,207 separate incidents of violent or sexual crime, accounting for almost 30% of county-wide crime.
It might surprise you, though, to learn that the most statistically dangerous area of the county is the small town of Waltham Cross, which has a comparative crime rate 180.6 crimes per 1,000 residents. This includes a substantially higher rate of anti-social behaviour (358 incidents) and crimes involving vehicles (142 incidents).
These high crime areas pose a stark contrast to the calmer areas of the county. This includes the village of Sandridge (33.4 crimes per 1000 people), and Harpenden (30.1 crimes per 1000 people).
There’s few towns across the UK that have seen the same growth and development that Stevenage has. From humble beginnings as a small medieval village, to the New Town developments following the Second World War, the town offers an ideal spot to kickstart a business.
However, before rushing into to choosing Stevenage, security is essential, and a key party of that is learning the crime rates. This falls a little above the county average, at 83 crimes per 1000 residents, with the most common crimes being violence and sexual assault (4410 offences).
One key standout stat that warrants closer attention is Stevenage’s unusually high rate of personal theft (284 offences), which is double the rest of the county, and significantly higher than most of the UK.
Watford is often mistakenly considered to just be a suburb of London, but that really diminishes the town’s importance. With a thriving, modern town centre, and a bustling tourist industry, it’s far more than just a feeder town for the capital.
However, Watford’s crime rate of 79 crimes per 1000 people does hang a grey cloud over what is otherwise an excellent and secure place for your business. The primary crime is violence and sexual crime, with conservative estimates from police sources placing this at 4,410 offences.
There are other noteworthy statistics, too, especially if you’re concerned about securing your Watford business. High rates across anti-social behaviour (3473 offences) and theft (1240 offences) both contribute towards the need for effective security.
One of England’s most easterly counties, set against the crashing tides of the North Sea, Norfolk offers scenic coastlines and areas of outstanding natural beauty, alongside bustling towns and cities. It’s this balance of calm, coastal life and inner city living that combine to provide Norfolk’s lower crime rate of 85.1 crimes per 1000 residents.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the county is crime-free. As you’ll have seen from this list so far, there’s no area of Eastern England (or anywhere in the UK) that’s crime free, and Norfolk is no exception.
While you might expect Norwich to be the only area of Norfolk to have noteworthy statistics on crime, that’s sadly not the case.
Great Yarmouth is particularly unsafe, with a crime rate that’s almost double what’s expected for the county – 160 crimes per 1000 people, with violent and sexual offences the most common offence (4485 incidents).
Safer areas aren’t uncommon in Norfolk, though. Taverham leads the way in this regard by some margin (29.7 crimes per 1000 residents), although Thorpe St Andrew (47.9 crime per 1000 people) and Bradwell (51.6 crimes per 100 people) have modest rates in comparison to the county overall.
Norfolk’s primary hub for business and commerce, and the only city in the county, Norwich is often many people’s first thought when they imagine the county. That’s totally understandable – the city offers a vibrant snapshot of Norfolk life, as well as plenty of opportunities for businesses.
However, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Norwich represents the area with the largest portion of the total crimes reported in Norfolk, with 20,840 incidents taking place over the course of the year.
The most common among these was violent or sexual crime, with 9,705 offences, but there was also a significant amount of offences in antisocial behaviour (3342 incidents) and public order disruption (2483 incidents), all of which spark concern for the security of your Norwich business.
Norfolk’s southern counterpart, Suffolk shares a coastline with its northern neighbour, as well as many of its defining geographical features. With a prosperous shipping port at Felixstowe, and cultural attractions that range from a classical music festival to professional football, Suffolk offers a diverse melting pot for businesses and families alike.
However, while the crime rate for this eastern county is the lowest in the region, it’s still an area for concern for those considering the area for their business or home. It sits at 79.2 crimes per 1000 residents, with the most common offence being those of a violent or sexual nature (25,399 incidents over 2022).
Of course, larger cities like Ipswich and Lowestoft hold a significant portion of the county’s crime rate, Bury St. Edmunds follows closely behind, with around 100 crimes per 1000 residents, and similar trends with violent crime.
While Suffolk has the lowest overall crime rate of the eastern counties, there are standout areas that lower this rate even further. The safest among these is Kesgrave, with 27 crimes per 1000 residents, but Felixstowe also falls under the county’s overall crime rate, at 65.4 crimes per 1000 people.
Suffolk’s primary town, and one with a well-documented and varied history, Ipswich offers a multi-faceted and diverse area to build your business. From professional sport and an annual jazz festival, to the historic Cornhill town square, it’s easy to spot the town’s draws.
Sadly, though, Ipswich also has the highest rate of crime in the Suffolk area, with 104.1 crimes per 1000 people in the area, a significant increase over the county’s average.
Violent and sexual crime makes up 31% of Ipswich’s total crimes (7357 offences), plus there’s significant figures in anti-social behaviour (2541 incidents), public order offences (1632 incidents), and shoplifting (1613 incidents).
Plus, Ipswich has an extraordinarily high level of bicycle theft, with 211 incidents over the course of the year – over double the average for the rest of the county.