Melanie Butler aims to dispel some myths about the UK and pick out especially safe places to study – whether in ancient kingdoms or traditional spa towns
Many people believe, wrongly, that Britain is a dangerous country. Even the British believe it, according to the Global Peace Index, which ranks countries around the world in terms of levels of violence. The British believe that the level of violence is around the world average, but it isn’t.
In Britain homicide, access to weapons and imports of weapons are all very low, at similar levels to Australia, Sweden and Japan. The incidence of violent crime is low, the same ranking as Spain, Germany and Ireland. Between 2010 and 2015 the level of terrorism in the UK was very low, the same as Canada, though the impact of terrorism was average. Violent crime has been falling in the UK for twenty years, and with a few local exceptions it is still falling.
Many international students and their families, however, are concerned about the safety of the destination their schools are in. So we used the Global Peace Index rankings to find the safest places in Britain to study. A score of five shows a place that is extremely safe, while four indicates a very safe location.
On a national level, the safest country in the United Kingdom is Wales, where even the capital city has the same crime rate as a quiet country village and the peace index score is 4.2 out of a possible five.
England is the second safest country. However, it covers a much larger area, has a much bigger population and has enormous regional variations in levels of crime. In terms of major language travel destinations, there are two large regions where the rates of violent crime are very low – Devon and Sussex. Even the large university towns in these regions, such as Brighton and Exeter, are as safe as small country towns, and there are no language schools located anywhere in these two areas where the crime rate is higher than the national average.
There are two other kinds of EFL destination that we found which had very low rates of crime – the spa towns and a number of the ancient cathedral cities which now have universities. Among the other major English language destinations Oxford had the best score for safety, as did one area of London, Richmond upon Thames, whose neighbouring ‘London villages’ Wimbledon and Kingston are also as safe as the average English town.
London is the most dangerous city but, in a global context, it is not that dangerous at all. The rate of violent crime in London is below that in Amsterdam and Dublin, and just higher than Rome. In fact, it is about the same as Toronto, Canada.