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Safest in the east

Broadland in Norfolk was named as the “most peaceful” area in the UK according to a UK Peace Index. It took 10 years of official data and found that there was a “substantial and sustained” fall in violent crime over the last decade – a fall more rapid in the UK than anywhere else in Western Europe. After Broadland, comes Three Rivers and South Cambridgeshire, also in eastern England.

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According to the report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (, there were only eight weapons crimes recorded for 2012 in Broadland with an average overall crime rate for the decade at 323 per 100,000 people – about a third of the national average.

Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of IEP, said: “The UKPI clearly indicates that the UK has become substantially more peaceful in the past decade, but it also shows that further improvements in peace would generate billions of pounds in extra economic activity. While the increased level of peace cannot be narrowed down to any single factor, the findings of the UK Peace Index show that poverty and economic opportunity are significantly associated with peace as supported by other international studies including the U.S. Peace Index. This suggests greater emphasis needs to be placed on programmes that tackle poverty and related issues such as access to education and economic opportunity.”

Max Chambers, Head of Crime and Justice at Policy Exchange, a think tank which has advised on the UKPI said, “It is striking that this report shows that while crime is rising in places like Sweden, Belgium, Italy and Spain, the UK is continuing to see record reductions in crime and violence. This suggests that smart policing and preventative policies are having a real impact, highlighting that falling crime rates are not simply a societal phenomenon occurring everywhere in the Western world. The report also proves that crude police officer numbers do not correlate with crime levels, strengthening the argument that it is how police officers are used that matters more than simply how many there are.”

Summary of findings:

– Crime and homicide have fallen significantly, with the homicide rate halving over the last decade. The fall has resulted in the UK homicide rate now being roughly equivalent to the Western European average and at its lowest level since 1978. However, UK violent crime rate is significantly higher than the European average.

– Despite the global financial crisis and on-going recession, violence has continued to decline in both the UK and many European countries. Of the countries where crime increased, three – Spain, Portugal, and Italy – are high debt countries that have suffered the most from economic turmoil; other countries seeing an increase in crime include Sweden, Belgium and Slovenia.

– Public perceptions of the threat of violence are inflated. 17% of Britons think they will be the victim of a violent crime, whereas less than 4pc will actually experience violent crime. Surveys on perceptions of crime show that people feel crime is falling locally even as they think it is increasing nationally.

– Incarceration costs £40,800 per prisoner per year. The increase in incarceration since 1999 costs the British taxpayer an additional £881 million each year.

– London is the least peaceful of the 12 regions in the UK. Despite this, almost every London borough is now more peaceful than it was a decade ago. London is relatively peaceful compared to other major cities worldwide.

Broadland serves a population of around 125,000 and includes northern suburbs of Norwich and rural areas to the north and east of the city. The area has several market towns including Aylsham and Acle and several villages. The area is also home to part of the Norfolk Broads.

Policing commander for the Broadland district is Superintendent Stuart Gunn, who oversees seven Safer Neighbourhood Teams; Reepham, Aylsham, Taverham and Drayton, Hellesdon and Horsford, Sprowston and Spixworth, Thorpe St Andrew and Acle.

Superintendent Gunn welcomed the report saying: “Norfolk itself is one of the safest counties in the country and Broadland, as a district, is particularly safe.

“We are acutely aware that Broadland’s residents value their quality of life and traditional values and my officers work closely with partner agencies, including the District Council, County Council and housing providers, to make sure our policing reflects the area we work in whilst still tackling serious crimes robustly.

“The past year has seen the development of a multiagency operational partnership team which consists of Police, Local Authority staff and other agencies, aimed at sharing resources to resolve issues important to the community. It is through this coordinated approach that we are able to effectively tackle crime and antisocial behaviour. It is also through this team that we work to identify the most vulnerable members of our community and seek to provide the right support.”

Chief Superintendent Nick Dean, Norfolk’s County Policing Commander, said he was pleased to see his officers’ and other partner agencies hard work reflected in the figures saying: “Being the most peaceful local authority brings its own trials, with the number of officers reflecting the crime levels. This means we need to manage our resources efficiently and effectively providing visibility and reassurance whilst ensuring that all crime levels remain below. The figures reflect our success in this area.”

Broadland District Councillor Simon Woodbridge, who is Member Champion for Crime Prevention and Community Safety said: “Broadland has taken a partnership approach, working with our communities and the agencies and organisations that serve them to prevent crime where possible.

“Our residents consistently tell us that fear of crime is a priority issue for them. We already had a low crime rate, so we looked to see if we could prevent criminal behaviour from happening in the first place. We commissioned the University of East Anglia to tell us what caused criminal behaviour. The research told us that many offenders had trigger events in their younger lives such as bereavement in childhood, being abused or witnessing abuse or family breakdown and so we set policies over the last ten years where we are focused on early intervention, working in schools to help young people facing these problems now. We worked with charities, such as the Benjamin Foundation, to deliver these services in schools.”

About the index

The UKPI uses a subset of the internal peace indicators from the Global Peace Index (GPI):

Homicide (rate per 100,000 population)

Violent Crime (rate per 100,000 population)

Weapons Crime (rate per 100,000 population)

Police Officers (rate per 100,000 population)

Public disorder offences (rate per 100,000 population).

Each of these five indicators is given a weighting of between one and five. The weights are decided by the IEP research team, based on advice given by IEP’s expert panel on the weighting used in the GPI. The UKPI uses police recorded data collected and aggregated by the Home Office, cross-checked against other data such as hospital admissions. It predominantly uses Census and Eurostat data to correlate the UKPI against various socio- economic factors.


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