Police recorded crime figures include notifiable offences that have been reported to and recorded by the police. Therefore, police recorded crime does not capture all crimes that occur, with some types of crimes more likely to be underreported than others.
Data included in this Strategic Assessment covers the 2020/21 financial year with data covering this period significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the virus. Therefore, trends and changes in patterns over recent years should be interpreted in light of this. To minimise the impact of COVID on crime trends, comparisons with the current period (2021/22), have been made against the pre-pandemic baseline (2019/20) in most cases. However, where appropriate some insight will be drawn from comparing 2020/21 for certain crime types, such as domestic abuse and hate crime.
There were 34,254 recorded crimes in Southampton during 2021/22, which is an increase of +7.4% (2,365 crimes) compared to the pre-pandemic baseline (2019/20). This increase is in line with local and national trends, with Hampshire Constabulary experiencing a +7.6% increase and England a +5.5% increase during the same period.
The increase in total recorded crime over recent years may not reflect a ‘true’ increase in crime, as recorded crime can be influenced by improved awareness of key issues, more people reporting crime and improvements in recording by the police. Additionally, the Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales found no significant increase in total crime compared to the pre-pandemic baseline, with the 2022 Southampton community safety survey also finding no significant change in levels of reported victimisation compared to before the pandemic.
However, it is important to emphasise that this varies by crime type. Although some offence types have increased, such as violent crimes, sexual offences and domestic flagged crimes, others have decreased, for example anti-social behaviour and residential burglary.
A crime prioritisation scoring exercise highlighted the following crime groups as a priority for the Partnership:
- Violent crime
- Sexual offences
- Domestic crimes
Crime distribution within the city
Studies have consistently found strong links between risk factors such as poverty and crime. Poverty alone does not cause criminal behaviour or victimisation but generates material and social conditions that mean that people living in poorer neighbourhoods are generally more likely to be the victims and/or the perpetrators of crime. Therefore, as poverty and other risk factors vary across the city, so will the frequency and relative severity of crime.
The crime rate in Southampton varies considerably by electoral ward. Bargate and Bevois wards have the highest rate of crimes per resident population. These central wards have large shopping areas and high numbers of night-time economy venues, which are associated with particular crime types and crimes affected by alcohol. Bassett and Sholing wards have the lowest rate of offences, with these wards containing some of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the city. More information can be found in the deprivation and poverty page.
What do residents say?
The 2022 Southampton community safety survey was carried out by Southampton City Council from 31 August 2022 to 28 September 2022 to elicit the views of people living, studying and working in the city on community safety issues.
The majority of people who responded to the survey in 2022 felt crime had increased in the last 12 months (63%), with less than 1% of respondents feeling it had declined. Over a third (38%) of respondents reported being a victim of crime or anti-social behaviour in Southampton during the last 12 months. 13% of respondents to the 2022 survey agreed that the police and other local public services were successfully dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour in their local area.
Feelings of safety in the community are important, as residents should be able to go about their daily activities without fear of crime or harm.
Survey respondents were asked about feelings of safety in their local area and the city centre. The majority of respondents in the 2022 survey felt safe during the day in their local area (76% felt safe) and in the city centre (66% felt safe). Respondents felt less safe after dark, particularly in the city centre; two fifths (40%) of respondents felt safe after dark in their local area compared to less than a third (30%) feeling safe after dark in the city centre.
A summary report and slide set produced as part of the 2021/22 Strategic Assessment are available to download below. The interactive community safety dashboard can be accessed using the link below. For more information on crime in Southampton, see the Safe City Strategic Assessment page.