Reporter 461, 12 February 2001

Exploding the myths of inner city crime

The idea that living in a ‘nice’ area means you will receive better policing is an urban myth, according to recent research carried out by the School of Geography’s Dr Graham Clarke and Dr Linda See.

Using Home Office crime figures, the pair were commissioned by Channel 4 to draw up a crime list – a league table which, for the first time, measures police performance alone. This was achieved by taking into account social and economic factors such as deprivation and unemployment – which are beyond the control of police – to create a level playing field.

And the results showed that even in the most difficult of circumstances, crime can be reduced with imaginative policing.

Urban myth: Dr Linda See looks out over some of the tightly-knit streets of Leeds

Top of the charts was Knowsley in Merseyside, one of the most deprived communities in Britain, which came out best in the study. An extraordinarily low crime rate seems to have been achieved by imaginative policing, including the introduction of new neighbourhood officers who are building a strong relationship with the community. Another recent initiative, night patrols, has reduced youth disorder by 71 percent.

The much more affluent South Buckinghamshire in the Thames Valley came bottom of the list. Although violent crime is low in this area, property crime rates are amongst the worst in Britain.

Dr See said: "The results are only surprising because of the general perception that wealthier areas are better policed than deprived inner city areas. This work shows that this is not necessarily the case."

West Yorkshire did not fare well on the list. All five authorities in the area came in the bottom half of the list. And Leeds, which currently has the highest burglary rate in the country, came in the lowest 15 percent of the table.

Additional information is available in the following document: crimelist.htm or see the Channel 4 website

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