The Midlands, the beating heart of the UK, is home to Britain’s second city, Birmingham, the historic Black Country, and boasts spectacular countryside and thriving cultural hotspots in abundance. A significant player in the Industrial Revolution and home to some 10 million Britons, arguments as to the superiority of the North and South of England often neglect what is a quietly brilliant region of our islands.
Yet, even against a backdrop as rich, historic, and diverse as this, the Midlands exists under the same shadow cast by criminality as any other region across our shores.
In this blog, we use the latest crime rates from Britain’s heartlands and rank the ten most dangerous towns and cities in the Midlands.
The largest settlement in the East Midlands, Leicester experiences many of the crime-related problems one might expect from a major city. Indeed, the city of Leicester’s crime rate of 112 per 1,000 residents is 44% higher than the whole of Leicestershire combined.
Violence and sexual offences are among the most prevalent in Leicester, and in 2021, 20,440 incidents were reported to local law enforcement. Across the county of Leicestershire, the city itself also experienced an unusually high number of bicycle thefts in 2021, and in December alone, 66 separate reports of bike thefts were recorded.
A cathedral city with a vibrant multicultural population, caution is advised when venturing into Leicester, the 10th most dangerous area in the Midlands.
Forever synonymous with the exploits of the legendary Robin Hood, Nottingham is a city steeped in ancient English history. In fact, the Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, built partially within the cave system beneath Nottingham Castle, is claimed to be England’s oldest pub, with reports of the first ales being served as early as 1189.
Unfortunately for Nottingham, a history of crime stalks the city as well. With 114 crimes per 1,000 people recorded in 2021, the city’s crime rate is a whopping 49% higher than that of the county of Nottinghamshire.
Like Leicester, violence and sexual offences top the leaderboard, with 14,210 offences recorded during 2021. Also, like Leicester, Nottingham had a problem with bicycle theft that year, and 52 offences were reported to the police. Overall, the two extra crimes reported put it just ahead of its East Midlands counterpart and into number nine on our list.
As ancient English settlements go, they don’t come much older than Lincoln. In 1972, archaeologists discovered the remains of Lincoln’s earliest settlement and dated it back to the Iron Age.
More commonly recognised today as home to a cathedral upon which a mischievous imp watches over the city, Lincoln also deals with enough crime to make it the eighth most dangerous place in the Midlands.
Though violence and sexual offences grab the headlines, Lincoln has a not-insignificant drug problem. In October 2021, the 39 drug-related offences reported meant Lincoln had the worst drug crime rate in all of Lincolnshire.
Located in the heart of the Black Country, Wolverhampton is a city that made its name through coal mining, steel production, and the manufacture of cars and motorcycles. To this day, the city’s economy is propped up by its engineering prowess that features a sizable aerospace industry.
However, for all its innovation, Wolverhampton cannot shake off the influence of criminality. A city plagued by violent crime, violence and sexual offences are what keep West Midlands Police the busiest, but burglary and, alarmingly, possession of weapons are both crimes that are prevalent.
As of 2023, Wolverhampton’s crime rate stands at 34% higher than that of the West Midlands and 56% higher than the England, Wales & Northern Ireland overall figure.
Settled by the Romans, initially as Derventio, Derby became one of the industrial revolution’s vanguards and a centre of the British rail industry.
As the tiny Roman settlement evolved to become a thundering metropolis of industry and transportation, so too did its crime rate, and the 122 incidents per 1,000 residents puts Derby’s crime rate a full 50% higher than that of Derbyshire as a county.
With the 15,599 violence and sexual offences making these the most reported crimes in Derby in 2021, criminal damage and arson, and burglary are also common problems, with 233 and 115 crimes per 1,000, respectively, reported in December 2021 alone.
Located close to Wolverhampton, Dudley is the capital of the Black Country, designated so in 2014 by the borough council. A large market town recognised as one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution, Dudley holds a title it would rather not have – it is the fifth most dangerous settlement in the West Midlands.
While much like the other entries on our list, violence and sexual offences are the most widespread, in November 2021, Dudley had the highest crime rate for criminal damage and arson out of all major towns in the West Midlands, with 93 crimes reported.
To date, Dudley’s crime rate is a massive 71% higher than the overall figure for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The port town of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, is famed for once boasting the largest fishing fleet in the world up until the mid-20th century.
‘Grimbarians’, as they like to call themselves, are rightly proud of their small town’s influence on the world but are probably less so when it comes to its record of criminality. Not only does the 134 crimes per 1,000 Grimbarians make the town the fourth most dangerous area in the Midlands, but it is a scary 78% higher than that of Lincolnshire collectively.
Violence and sexual offences dominate the mix, but Grimsby also has a problem with burglaries. In December 2021, 59 incidents of burglary were reported to the authorities. Unfortunately, there are few signs that Grimsby’s problems are going away any time soon, with the latest figures showing that the port town’s crime rate is 75% higher than the average for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The UK’s second-largest city with a population of over one million, Birmingham is considered the Midlands’ cultural, social, commercial, and financial centre. Multicultural and buzzing with activity, ranging from the arts to association football, Birmingham suffers from a level of crime all too common with large cities.
The 137 offences reported per 1,000 Brummies comes in at 17% higher than the West Midlands as a whole, making Birmingham the second most dangerous major city across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
78,062 violence and sexual offences were recorded during 2021, making these the most common crimes, but the city is also scourged by criminal damage and arson. In the one month of December 2021, 1,093 incidents were reported, the worst in the West Midlands that month.
Just nine miles from Birmingham is the market town of Walsall, famed for its contributions to the Royal Family – the late Queen’s handbags, saddles for the Royal family’s horses, and leathergoods for King Charles are all manufactured in Walsall.
Noble though Walsall’s manufacturing history may be, its history of crime is anything but, and the town’s crime rate of 143 per 1,000 makes it the second most dangerous place in the Midlands.
Violence and sexual offences prove to be the town’s most widespread offences, but Walsall also suffers from burglaries, and in the 30 days of November 2021, 85 such offences were recorded by West Midlands police. To date, the crime rate in Walsall is an alarming 87% higher than the average for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Synonymous with the building society or the football team, depending on your interests, West Bromwich is a modest town burdened by the most ignominious of titles – it is the most dangerous place in the Midlands.
Though its population at the last census barely reached 80,000, West Bromwich’s crime rate of 151 per 1,000 means it is a place to remain vigilant at all times.
Following the grim thread that runs through our entire list, the town endures violence and sexual offences more than any other type of crime, with 5,600 separate incidents recorded by West Midlands police in 2021.
Available figures from 2023 show that the crime rate in West Bromwich remains a worry and, at the time of writing, is 98% higher than the average for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
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