Monday, 18 August 2008

Crime in SE11, Lambeth, Southwark and surrounds

On some of my previous posts, I've been scathing about people who consider South London to be dangerous, full of crime and not worthy of their attention. I've been interested for some time about how much crime is really committed in the different parts of London, and what type of crime etc. I'm most interested in SE11, but being so close to SE1, SE17, SW8 and SW9, it seems that a wider view ought to be taken. We can hardly stop people postcode hopping to commit crime!

Crime statistics are massively flawed for (at least) the three following reasons:

1. Crime stats. depend upon people reporting crime. I know lots of people who are the victims of petty theft who wouldn't report their crime if they didn't think that there was anything the police could do.

2. The police, periodically, change the definition of of what constitutes a crime "bracket" for a particular crime. So if one bracket goes up too much eg. "violent crime", they'll remove car crime from the bunch and place it in a different bracket. This makes long term study of crime very difficult because it's hard to tell where the boundaries have moved from and to.

3. Periodically, the area boundaries for measurement of crime are changed. I'm not sure whether this is so much of a problem as changing definitions, but it no doubt factors.

Anyhow, having said that, I found that the Metropolitan police (with some cleverish google mapping) have plotted a crime map of London (excluding the City). The "crimes" it counts are burglary, robbery and vehicle crime. The map uses colour to display highest crime areas in orange and red, and average in yellow. One can then break the areas down furthur and see the crime in particular wards.

Overall, Lambeth has a yellow shading (average crime), but Southwark has a red shading (high crime) for June 2008. I checked the figures, which state 850 crimes in June 2008 in Southwark, and 739 in Lambeth. It seemed to me then that the margin of difference between the brackets was small. However, I've played around a little more and it seems that the average numbers are calculated on the size of the borough in question. Westminster had fewer crimes committed than Lambeth, but since it's smaller, it records "above average" crime for London. The site is only in "Beta/testing" mode at the moment and I've asked for feedback as to more detail on the crime for future versions....

Anyhow, looking at Lambeth overall, there are (as is predictable) pockets of parts of Lambeth with more crime than others for June 08, but the good news first:

Average Crime compared with the rest of London: Bishops Ward, Princes Ward, Vassall Ward, Stockwell Ward, Larkhall Ward, Clapham Town Ward, Clapham Common Ward, Brixton Hill, Herne Hill, Thornton Ward, Tulse Hill Ward, Streatham Hill Ward, Streatham South, Streatham Wells, Gipsy Hill, Knight's Hill,

The bad news (but note that Lambeth has no wards with "high" crime:
Above Average Crime compared with the rest of London: Oval Ward, Ferndale Ward, Cold Harbour Ward, Thurlow Park Ward and St Leonards Ward.

Lambeth is statistically safer (but remember that this is an odd figure because of the different ward sizes) than both Southwark and Westminster.

SE11 has average crime levels for June 2008 (much of the area is in Princes Ward so that seems correct), the small Oval Ward subsection of SE11 also has average crime levels. The west of SE11 (a small subsection of Princes ward) has above average crime, but it's not clear how much of that might stem from the Albert Embankment.

However, the borders of SE11 are not so good. At the south and east side, SE11 is surrounded by 3 pockets of "above average" crime and 1 pocket of "high" crime (I suspect that that is due to Vauxhall Station and its unpleasant surrounds). Directly north of SE11 near Elephant, there is a pocket of "above average" crime as well.

As I said above, I'm hoping that the Metropolitan Police Crime Map will be developed over the next few months so that it will be possible to compare different periods of time and break down the type of crime in any area. I'll report back as soon as they release the figures for July 2008, so we can just see whether it was a quiet month, of whether Lambeth might really be declared to be a place of only "average" crime.

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