The 2015-2016 financial year saw London residences burgled over 43,000 times. With a calculated average cost of £2,883 per burglary, these burglaries cost around £123 million in damages, repairs and replacements. While the figures above are shocking, they do not take into account the emotional stress and turmoil that comes with a burglary, and they also do not reflect the way that burglaries occur from borough to borough.
The risk of crime is always a factor for any person considering renting or buying a home; indeed, the risk of residential burglary is among the most pressing concerns for any potential tenant or homeowner. This is not just because burglaries can have a huge financial impact, but because they also cause a great deal of emotional distress.
Residential burglary is often considered more common in London than it is in other areas of the UK and, whilst this is true in many postcodes, people rarely drill down deeper into the data to see exactly which areas of the city are most or least at risk - new data from Approved Index has done just that. The research project, which compares the 33 London boroughs, provides an interesting perspective on home intrusion, as well as some surprises.
The London borough with the highest risk of home burglary is Barnet, followed by Haringey and then Enfield. Interestingly, fourth place is occupied by an area well-known for being one of the city's wealthiest districts. Kensington & Chelsea residents have the fourth highest risk of burglary in the capital with Camden - the third most expensive borough to live - coming just behind in fifth.
For residents in these boroughs perhaps this is not surprising, but for many people it might come as one to see two of the city's most expensive areas near the top-end of the scale for burglary risk. Of course, this is probably a factor in these residences being targeted, with more expensive houses and flats generally more likely to contain valuable items.
The other end of the table includes a range of boroughs with a significantly lower risk of burglary. City of London residents are at a considerably lower risk compared to Chelsea and Camden, with only 0.23% of 'Square Mile' residents burgled, and with the total estimated cost of these burglaries only reaching around £23,000. Just above the City of London are Kingston, Bexley and Sutton, none of which saw even a 1% annual burglary risk for their residents.
Croydon ranks second for both the number of residences and for the number of total burglaries - despite this, the risk of burglary in this borough is actually lower than in 21 others at only 1.08% per residence. In an interesting parallel, Kensington is almost an opposite case - ranking 32nd for both the number of residences and total number of crimes, but 4th for risk of burglary per residence. Westminster is similar, ranking 10th for burglary risk despite coming 22nd for number residences and burglaries.
Perhaps what was most interesting about this study was that, while it does show a clear correlation between population size and burglary frequency, this does not necessarily reflect the risk of burglary. Likewise, the affluence of a borough does not seem to impact the risk of residences being robbed.
Understanding the distinction between the number of burglaries in a borough and the risk of burglary per residence can provide some interesting insight into motives. Though some areas clearly have lower crime rates overall, this does not necessarily reflect the reality and effect of those crimes - the boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Camden are excellent examples of this.