May 2015 - Urban Crime Rates v. Rural Crime Rates

  • The overall change in crime levels is generally consistent between Urban & Rural areas with a reduction in numbers of crimes per 1000 of population being seen across all of the major crime categories apart from Violence & Sexual Offences where a significant increase is evident
  • The reduction in Burglaries recorded is greatest in Urban areas
  • The increase in Violence & Sexual offences is greatest in Rural areas
  • The reduction in Vehicle crimes recorded is greatest in Rural areas (in the short term)

This analysis, undertaken by locationcounts.co.uk, has concluded that overall, crime rates have reduced across England & Wales both in the short and longer terms (see note 1). However the rate of reduction has slowed in the last 12 months when compared to previous time periods. The table below show the number of recorded crimes (all crime types) split by Rural & Urban areas (see note 2).

Graph showing Number of Crimes (all categories per 1000 population

In Mainly Urban areas, the number of crimes recorded (per 1000 of population) is significantly greater than in Mainly Rural areas (currently 130 compared to 50.2). However the gap between the two has closed significantly over the past 4 years from a gap of 95.8 in period 2011/12 to a gap of 79.8 in period 2014/15. That being said, the percentage change is broadly aligned (circa a decrease of 17.5%).

When comparing Urban & Rural areas, the main differences are seen when focus is given to specific key crime categories (see note 3). The tables below show the percentage change in crime levels by key crime categories in both the short and longer terms (note, due to inconsistencies in how data has been historically collected, a longer term view is not available for the crime categories 'Criminal Damage & Arson' and 'Other Theft').

Graph showing Shorter Term Change (April 2013 / March 2014 to April 2014 / March 2015

Graph showing Longer Term Change (April 2011 / March 2012 to April 2014 / March 2014

For Anti-Social Behaviour, no clear trend is apparent.

For Burglary, the rate of reduction is greatest in more Urban areas both in the short and longer terms with the rate of reduction in Mainly Urban areas (circa 20%) being double that in Mainly Rural areas (circa 10%).

For Criminal Damage & Arson, the rate of reduction is greatest in more Rural areas though this is only evident in the short term due to a lack of information for the long-term view.

For Other Theft, again only short term data is available and no clear trend is apparent.

For Vehicle crime, no clear trend is apparent in the long-term, however, in the short term it is clear that the rate of reduction is greatest in more Rural areas.

For Violence & Sexual Offences, all areas show a steep increase (see note 4) in crimes recorded both in the short and longer terms. However, the percentage increases are greatest in Rural areas with the long term increase in Rural areas (circa 34%) being double that in Urban areas (circa 17%); that being said, the increase in Rural areas is from a much lower base, so in actual number terms, the increase in Urban areas is greatest (from 17.6 to 20.6 per 1000 population compared to 5.6 to 7.5 per 1000 population in Rural areas).

So, in conclusion, an individual living in an Urban area is more likely to be a victim of crime than one living in a more Rural area; however, the chances of being affected by crime are reducing at a faster rate in an Urban area.

About the author & the article

Graham Dewhirst is a co-founder of locationcounts.co.uk. Any queries relating to this article can be directed via the locationcounts.co.uk contact form or by e-mail to graham.dewhirst at challengelogic.net.

The analysis has been based on all areas in England & Wales. Analyses can also be undertaken for specific regions/counties – please contact the author for further information.

The Data

Source crime contains public sector information licenced under the Open Government Licence V2.0.

Land use data contains information from the European Environment Agency. http://www.eea.europa.eu/legal/copyright.

Notes

  1. Short term change is when comparing the number of crimes recorded in the time period April 2013 to March 2014 with time period April 2014 to March 2015. Long term change is when comparing the number of crimes recorded in the time period April 2011 to March 2012 with time period April 2014 to March 2015.
    • Mainly Rural = 10% or less land use of an ‘Urban’ nature
    • Significantly Rural = Between 10% and 30% land use of an ‘Urban’ nature
    • Urban/Rural Mix = Between 30% and 60% land use of an ‘Urban’ nature
    • Significantly Urban = Between 60% and 90% land use of an ‘Urban’ nature
    • Mainly Urban = 90% or more land use of an ‘Urban’ nature
  2. The article is focussed on the 6 key crime categories of Anti-Social Behaviour, Burglary, Criminal Damage & Arson, Other Theft, Vehicle Crime and Violence & Sexual Offences. Crimes recorded against these categories make-up over 75% of all crimes recorded. The remainder of crimes recorded are spread over 8 other categories.
  3. It is possible that the steep increase is due to improvements in way that such crimes are recorded and the increased confidence of victims of sexual crimes to come forward and report crimes against them.

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