Which Police Jurisdiction In The South West Is The Most Dangerous?

August 2, 2021

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One of nine official regions of England, the south west is made up of the counties of Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire and Wilshire – as well as the Isles of Scilly.

The region is policed by five forces: Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

We wanted to know which of these police forces encounters the highest levels of crime. By understanding the differences in crime rates between constabularies, our hope is to give readers an indication of which areas of the south west are the most dangerous as well as what sorts of crime are likely to occur in their area.

To find out, we looked at the most recent annual crime statistics (year ending June 2019) published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). We’ve ordered our list in terms of the crime rate per 1,000 people.


1) Gloucester Constabulary – Crime Rate Per 1,000 People: 55.9 (35,447 crimes recorded)

Gloucestershire Constabulary is responsible for enforcing law and order over a 1,025 square mile area. Consisting of six Local Policing Areas – Cheltenham, Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Stroud and Tewkesbury – Gloucester Constabulary employs around 1,200 constables and is headquartered in Quedgeley.

Over one year, the force recorded:

  1. 9,955 violence against the person offences
  2. 1,092 sexual offences
  3. 327 robberies
  4. 16,011 theft offences
  5. 4,608 criminal damage and arson offences
  6. 1,142 drug offences
  7. 275 possession of a weapon offences
  8. 1,565 public order offences
  9. 472 miscellaneous crimes

Ranked as the safest place to live in the UK earlier this month, Gloucestershire has one of the lowest rates of crime in Britain.

Perhaps the people of Gloucestershire are some of the most law abiding in the country, or perhaps Gloucester Constabulary are doing an absolutely stellar job – whatever the reason Gloucestershire residents can relax in the knowledge that their region is incredibly safe.


2) Wiltshire Police – Crime Rate Per 1,000 People: 59.9 (43,164 crimes recorded)

Wilshire Police is one of the smallest police forces in the country. However, the force is responsible for a 1,346 square mile area – that’s the 20th largest of all the 45 police forces in England and Wales.

Over one year, the force recorded:

  1. 14,675 violence against the person offences
  2. 1,586 sexual offences
  3. 327 robberies
  4. 15,842 theft offences
  5. 5,726 criminal damage and arson offences
  6. 1,215 drug offences
  7. 367 possession of a weapon offences
  8. 2,711 public order offences
  9. 715 miscellaneous crimes

Similar to Gloucester Constabulary, Wilshire Police recorded an incredibly low rate of crime compared to the national average. With only 59.9 crimes per 1,000 people, Wilshire is a very safe area of the UK.

In order to maintain these low levels of crime, the force recently announced that they will be launching an anti-organised crime campaign. Called Project Optimise, the campaign will target the region’s 19 most wanted organised criminals.


3) Devon and Cornwall Police – Crime Rate Per 1,000 People: 60.2 (106,154 crimes recorded)

Responsible for policing the counties of Devon and Cornwall, Devon and Cornwall Police cover a 3,961 square mile area – including the Isle of Scilly. This is the largest region of any English police force – and the fourth largest in the UK.

Over one year, the force recorded:

  1. 41,516 violence against the person offences
  2. 4,583 sexual offences
  3. 686 robberies
  4. 29,949 theft offences
  5. 14,737 criminal damage and arson offences
  6. 4,359 drug offences
  7. 1,013 possession of a weapon offences
  8. 7,141 public order offences
  9. 2,170 miscellaneous crimes

In addition to its resident population of around 1.5 million, Devon and Cornwall Police also contend with around 11 million visitors annually.

Sadly, the region is currently experiencing a surge in crime. Over one year, reported crime has risen by 22 percent – well above the national average of 13 percent. That said, since its peak in the mid-1990s, victim surveys show that crime has generally fallen in the jurisdiction, making the recent surge less significant than it may first appear.


4) Dorset Police – Crime Rate Per 1,000 People: 69.5 (53,672 crimes recorded)

Policing an area of 1,024 square miles, Dorset Police is headquartered in Winfrith. Unlike some forces, the constabulary’s officers wear the traditional custodian helmet in the comb style. With around 1,300 employees, Dorset Police is a small force.

Over one year, the force recorded:

  1. 18,971 violence against the person offences
  2. 1,964 sexual offences
  3. 302 robberies
  4. 20,030 theft offences
  5. 6,749 criminal damage and arson offences
  6. 1,569 drug offences
  7. 328 possession of a weapon offences
  8. 3,072 public order offences
  9. 687 miscellaneous crimes

Though Dorset sees slightly higher levels of crime than the areas listed above, it’s crime rate per 1,000 people is still significantly below the England and Wales average of 89.3. That said, the area does have a significant problem with motor thefts, coming just behind Surrey and Glasgow as the third worst area in the UK for this type of crime.


5) Avon and Somerset Police – Crime Rate Per 1,000 People: 79.9 (136,710 crimes recorded)

Avon and Somerset Police is responsible for enforcing law in the county of Somerset and the now-defunct county of Avon. As such, the force polices the city and county of Bristol as well as the unitary authorities of Bath and North East Somerset. As such, Avon and Somerset Police cover an area of 1,855 square miles and police around 1.6 million people.


Over one year, the force recorded:

  1. 42,874 violence against the person offences
  2. 4,341 sexual offences
  3. 1,623 robberies
  4. 49,212 theft offences
  5. 15,377 criminal damage and arson offences
  6. 2,919 drug offences
  7. 868 possession of a weapon offences
  8. 17,576 public order offences
  9. 1,920 miscellaneous crimes

Considering that its jurisdiction includes Bristol, it’s no surprise the Avon and Somerset Police recorded higher numbers of crimes than other south west constabularies.

What’s more, the force is currently dealing with a rise in violent crime. Indeed, it is one of the 18 areas worse affected by this kind of offence. As such, the Government recently announced that it would be giving the force and extra £1.1 million to tackle violent crime.

Taken as a whole, the south west is one of the England’s least crime-ridden regions with an average crime rate per 1,000 of just 67. In fact, this is the lowest of all the regions in England and Wales which makes the south west the safest region.

Want to learn more?

Find out which south east police force records the highest number of crimes.

Or find out which parts of London are the most dangerous.

Do you operate a business in the south west? Churchill Support Services is a leading UK security provider and a trusted supplier of expert security solutions to businesses operating in the south west of England.

Andy Farley

Operations Director

Andy is an experienced operations and sales professional with over 20 years’ experience. As Churchill Support Services Operations Director, Andy is responsible for service delivery to new and existing clients throughout the UK, managing the 24 hour control room, the supervisory team and Operations Managers, and for driving efficiencies and best practice standards within the organisation.