The 15 Most Dangerous Areas In The South East

There’s a wide range of motivations when we’re deciding where to live and work. Convenience, and a close proximity to the amenities we’ve come to know and love, is a key driving factor, as are public transport connections, road networks and even schools for those with families.

Arguably the most crucial consideration, though, is how safe (or, as the case may be, dangerous) an area is. Crime rates and criminal activity play a pivotal role when we’re choosing where to lay down our roots, and especially so if it’s somewhere where we might opt to start a family, launch a business, or settle down with retirement plans.

Here at Churchill Support Services, we’ve got an established reputation for unbiased, clear reporting on crime rates across the UK. From in-depth looks at crimes in major cities like London and Birmingham, to overall guides to specific areas such as the North West, we’re well-versed in helping people from across the UK make an informed decision on where they choose to live.

With our latest piece, we’ll be looking southward at England’s South East. We’ll count down 15 of the region’s most dangerous areas, as well as pinpointing the key issues that make those areas so problematic.


How Dangerous Is The South East Of England?

Famed for the rugged coastlines that form a jaw-dropping backdrop for bustling metropolises and seaside getaways, England’s South East is one of the country’s most glistening and attractive corners, especially given the vistas over the English Channel that it offers.

From the vibrancy and urbanisation of Brighton & Hove, to the untamed wilds of Surrey and the Kentish countryside, there’s a diverse cross-section that’s appealing to a wide variety of walks of life. That’s further augmented by the region’s close proximity to London, and its tendrilous network of ports that connect the British Isles to the wider world.

Of course, while that popularity paints a pleasant picture of the South East, the area’s statistics on crime create an altogether different one. An overall crime rate of 78.3 crimes per 1000 people living in the area only tells a partial story, and one that makes for grim reading in comparison to other areas of England and Wales, especially given that this has remained consistent in recent years.

Digging deeper into that rate, we find soaring numbers across the key issues that have long made headlines UK-wide, such as violent crime (289,155 offences), theft (220,901 offences) and criminal damage (72,076 offences).

There’s also concerning rises in more pressing problems for the region, which perhaps are reflective of the current state of the world. Shoplifting (61,475 offences) is a key example of that, seeing an alarming 39% rise when we compare it to last year’s statistics.

As you’d expect, however, not every area of the South East faces the same uphill struggles, with some areas facing more substantial issues than others. We’ve isolated just a small selection of some of the most dangerous areas in the South East of England, and what those stats might mean for your future plans.


The 15 Most Dangerous Areas In South East England

We’ll count down the South East’s 15 most dangerous areas, the key statistics that make them so hazardous, and what you need to know to be able to make an informed decision for the future.


15. Sittingbourne

Overall Crime Rate Of 111.2 Crimes Per 1000 People

Sittingbourne has one of the more storied histories of any town in its county of Kent, with the roots of industry and innovation stretching as far back as the Roman era. The modern era of the town, however, is dominated by a rate of crime – 111.2 crimes per 1000 residents – that sees Sittingbourne enter the top 15 most dangerous areas of the South East.

Digging deeper into those statistics, we find that violent crime (2528 offences) is the most prevalent problem facing Sittingbourne’s safety and security. However, there’s mounting concern surrounding a rate of shoplifting (996 offences) that’s more than 3 times the regional average, and that’s increased by a staggering 60% when compared with 2022’s figures.


14. Rochester

Overall Crime Rate Of 111.4 Crimes Per 1000 People

Most closely associated with its eponymous castle, as well as some of the UK’s most shining examples of architecture in its ancient cathedral spires, it’ll come as a surprise to see Rochester feature on the list of the most dangerous areas in the South East. However, with a soaring crime rate of 111.4 crimes per 1000 residents, it more than warrants its inclusion.

Violent crime (3563 offences) is Rochester’s most pressing concern. Not only does violent crime account for a huge 50.7% of all crime in the town, it’s also a rate that’s more than 65% higher than the regional average. That’s alongside steadily increasing figures in both antisocial behaviour (1082 offences) and vehicle crime (450 offences).


13. Reading

Overall Crime Rate Of 115 Crimes Per 1000 People

The largest town in its county of Berkshire, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Reading is a city. That’s particularly true given its substantial contributions to the worlds of sport, culture and arts, as well as its place as a forerunner in technology and insurance. It unfortunately also has crime figures that we’d more associate with a larger city, too, at 115 crimes per 1000 residents.

Reading’s main issues lie in equally concerning numbers of both violent crimes (7562 incidents) and antisocial behaviour (1951 incidents), which together account for a staggering 50.8 of all crime in the town. Robbery (214 incidents) is also a growing threat, especially given that it’s more than twice as prevalent in Reading as it is across the whole of the county.


12. Canterbury

Overall Crime Rate Of 115 Crimes Per 1000 People

Closely tied with religion and ceremony in its seat for the Archbishop, Canterbury’s surroundings carry the level of resplendence that you’d expect from such a sacred city. Its infamous cathedral dominates the skyline, while its streets grapple with an uncharacteristic crime rate of 115 crimes per 1000 residents.

In spite of the sanctity that its reputation preaches, there are several issues that have quickly become an issue for residents and businesses alike. Violent crime (1051 offences) is the most commonly reported issue, but there’s equally mounting concern surrounding region-leading rates of both shoplifting (496 offences) and antisocial behaviour (480 offences).


11. Chatham

Overall Crime Rate Of 120.9 Crimes Per 1000 People

A seafaring town until the mid-1980s, Chatham has rapidly transformed into a major tourist hub that’s retained that keen sense of naval history in its attractions and seafront properties. For all its appeal, however, this Kentish riverside town is plagued with issues, the chief of which is a rising crime rate of 120.9 crimes per 1000 residents.

By far the worst issue for Chatham’s residents and visitors is a startling rate of violent crime (4427 incidents), which accounts for a whopping 47.7% of all crime in the town. That’s not the only concern however. The rate of robbery (118 incidents) is more than 3 times higher than the regional average, and weapon possession (125 incidents) statistics are twice the regional average.


10. Chichester

Overall Crime Rate Of 121.3 Crimes Per 1000 People

Nestled in the far southern reaches of England, and bisected by the renowned waterways that give the city an altogether small-town feel, Chichester and its cathedral spires are a landmark area on the southeastern coastline. A quaint exterior masks a concerning rate of crime, however, with Chichester seeing a soaring crime rate of 124.5 crimes per 1000 residents.

Violent crime (1455 offences) is Chichester’s most pressing issue, accounting for around 32% of all crime in the city. That’s in addition to rising numbers across both antisocial behaviour (650 offences) and shoplifting (644 offences), as well as a surprising rate of bicycle theft (137 offences) that’s more than 3 times higher than the regional average.


9. Margate

Overall Crime Rate Of 122.7 Crimes Per 1000 People

A premier seaside hub in the Thanet district of Kent, and infamous across popular media dating as far back as the 1920s, Margate is the pinnacle of an English seaside getaway. The iconic Dreamland overlooks a bustling harbourside, and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. However, that popularity comes at a price that’s best exemplified by a climbing crime rate of 122.7 crimes per 1000 residents.

As we’ve seen throughout this list of the most dangerous areas in the South East, violent crime (3958 offences) is an ever-present problem, especially here in Margate where it’s more than twice as high as the regional average. Looking deeper, we find rates of both drug crime (300 offences) and robbery (62 offences) that are also double the Kent-wide average.


8. Southampton

Overall Crime Rate Of 123.1 Crimes Per 1000 People

One of England’s most dynamic port cities, and one half of an age-old rivalry with Portsmouth, Southampton has been thoroughly modernised in recent memory, offering a hub for students, businesses and tourists alike. That cutting-edge exterior hides a dark secret however, with the city harbouring a crime rate of 123.1 crimes per 1000 residents.

With this being the 10th most dangerous area in the South East, the figures we’ve uncovered are alarming to say thee least. Startlingly high figures in violent crime (14,290 incidents), public order offences (3613 incidents) and shoplifting (3137 incidents) are all causes for concern across the Southampton area.


7. Andover

Overall Crime Rate Of 125.4 Crimes Per 1000 People

The subject of ambitious regeneration and rejuvenation plans in place for the next several decades, Andover’s big ideas and future ideas belie the town’s relatively unknown stature and small population. Sadly though, those plans are set to be undercut slightly by a soaring crime rate, which sits at a concerning 125.4 crimes per 1000 residents.

Andover’s main issue lies, as many towns and cities across the UK do, in a rising rate of violent crimes (2229 incidents), which account for a staggering 46.4% of all crime in the Andover area. That’s alongside equally concerning numbers across antisocial behaviour (505 incidents), public order offences (495 incidents) and criminal damage (319 incidents).


6. Windsor

Overall Crime Rate Of 127.6 Crimes Per 1000 People

Perched upon the winding banks of the Thames, Windsor has long been associated with royalty and resplendence. That’s especially true of its iconic castle and riverside splendour, but less so of its streets, which have been plagued by a year-on-year rise in crime, equating to a shocking overall crime rate of 127.6 crimes per 1000 residents.

Of the 3431 offences recorded in Windsor over the course of 2023, more than 36% of these were violent crimes (1260 incidents), underscoring exactly why Windsor features as one of the most dangerous areas in the South East. That comes alongside equally concerning numbers recorded across both public order offences (315 incidents) and vehicle crime (295 incidents).


5. Slough

Overall Crime Rate Of 128.7 Crimes Per 1000 People

One of the more heavily industrialised area of the South East, and a place that’s a major player in both the local and national economy, Slough has a less-than-sought-after reputation in terms of its appeal outside of that industry. That’s most notably reflected by its soaring crime rate, which, for the last year, sits at 128.7 crimes per 1000 residents.

Perhaps most concerningly for Slough’s residents is how this is an increasing trend, with 2023 seeing a 1.6% increase over 2021’s figures, while staying consistent with 2022’s figures. The main contributors towards that rate are high numbers in violent crime (6424 offences), antisocial behaviour (1408 offences) and theft (1392 offences).


4. Ramsgate

Overall Crime Rate Of 132.3 Crimes Per 1000 People

A major seaside destination on Kent’s glistening coastline, and home to an annual regatta on its amber sands, Ramsgate has long held a special place in the hearts of holidaymakers across the region. That might be set to change, however, with the town sat at 4th on our rankings of the most dangerous areas of the South East thanks to a rising crime rate of 132.3 crimes per 1000 residents.

Ramsgate’s main issues arise from soaring rates of both violent crime (2723 offences) and antisocial behaviour (961 offences), which account for a staggering 69% of all crime in the town. There’s also mounting worries surrounding the rate of drug crime (214 offences), which is more than double the average for Kent.


3. Crawley

Overall Crime Rate Of 138.6 Crimes Per 1000 People

Best known for its place as one of the more sprawling conurbations of West Sussex, Crawley plays home to more than 105,000 residents across a multitude of districts that all conjoin to create a famed corner of the county. That popularity is a double-edged sword, however, bringing with it an inflated crime rate of 138.6 crimes per 1000 residents.

Violent crime (5519 incidents) is the most pressing problem for Crawley’s citizens, accounting for more than a third of all crime in the town. Couple that with a soaring rate of shoplifting (1773 incidents), as well as weapon possession statistics (873 incidents) that are almost 4 times the regional average, and the threat to safety becomes all too apparent.


2. Dover

Overall Crime Rate Of 177.2 Crimes Per 1000 People

England’s most famous port, and enshrined in legend thanks to its iconic chalk-white cliffs, the town of Dover has always been the thoroughfare for those visiting Britain. With archaeological finds dating as far back as the Stone Age, it’s disheartening to see such a historic corner of the UK have such a rank so highly in the most dangerous areas of the South East, at 177.2 crimes per 1000 residents.

However, when we look more closely at that overarching crime rate, it’s clear to see the issues that Dover faces. Rates of violent crime (2749 incidents), shoplifting (541 incidents) and public order offences (452 incidents) are more than double the regional average, and have seen year-on-year increases.


1. Newport, Isle of Wight

Overall Crime Rate Of 185.2 Crimes Per 1000 People

Officially, the most dangerous area in the South East of England is – surprisingly – one that’s not part of the mainland UK. Newport, one of the Isle of Wight’s most prominent towns and a key tourist destination for those visiting the island, saw a staggering 185.2 crimes per 1000 residents over the course of 2023, for a less-than-grand total of 4706 criminal offences.

When we look more closely at that rate of crime, there’s several standout statistics that really reinforce just how concerning criminal activity in Newport is. Staggering numbers in violent crime (1746 offences) are the headline statistic, accounting for almost 46% of all crime in the town.

The data also uncovered equally concerning figures in antisocial behaviour (441 offences), criminal damage and arson (323 offences) and shoplifting (258 offences), all of which have seen increases when look at previous years.


How Have We Sourced Our Data Here At Churchill?

In the interests of creating a clear and unbiased picture of objectively the most dangerous areas in the South East of England, we’ve used the raw data that’s openly available from the Police Data repository, as well as the most recent census data from the Office of National Statistics.

We’ve then expressed this as a ratio of the number of crimes per 1000 people. This gives us the opportunity to fairly reflect the crime in a specific area, and to take into account key variables like population and the size of the area.

Emily Macaulay

Director of Sales

Emily is responsible for business growth and account development via new sales. She leads the Business Development teams through strategic goals and objectives in line with business targets and strategy. Emily is a friendly, approachable and a respected senior manager at Churchill who always strives to deliver service excellence.