How accurate is the recent vote that Edinburgh is the UK’s safest city?

There was good news in Edinburgh recently, as the city was announced to be the safest in the country in a study from August of this year. Edinburgh got the top spot, followed by Bristol, Brighton and Hove, Southampton, and Cambridge. Birmingham was voted least safe, with Leicester, Manchester, London and Sheffield completing the bottom five. This study was by television channel ‘Crime+Investigation’ to launch their new series of Murdertown: a Crime+Investigation. spokesperson said: “The results of this study offer a fascinating insight into how safe we Britons feel in our cities and towns.”

This study looked at poll responses of 2000 people in Britain to see how safe they felt. Considering how many cities there are in the UK this is a relatively small amount of people and the study itself is difficult to find, meaning that there is no real information regarding how many people from each city actually participated. The Provident Personal Credit study ‘Unbroken Britain’ also looked at thousands of responses and found Edinburgh to be tenth safest in April 2018. Has the city really become safer since April? This questions how trustworthy these studies actually are.

In their study, ‘Crime+Investigation’ concluded that 82 per cent of participants in Edinburgh would recommend their house as safe, and only 16 per cent had experienced crime. In a small survey among friends and course-mates performed recently, everyone asked did rate Edinburgh as between eight and ten out of ten for safety during the day. Vet student Rachel rated Edinburgh as nine out of ten and Manchester centre as only a three, which does reflect the findings of the larger study. However, as many noted, a city does always have both safe and unsafe areas.

Several people mentioned the Meadows, and the well-known phrase “never go into the Meadows at night”, with some suggestions of dodgy areas in Leith, and preferring Morningside to Newington. On 22 June a man was assaulted near Leith Walk, and earlier in the year a man was assaulted on Clerk Street during a weekday afternoon. Edinburgh does experience crime and with this, especially in such a public setting, it is hard to believe that Edinburgh is the safest city. Alongside this, as most will have heard, human remains have been found in Pollock Halls this term. Although these are said to have been there for a long time, it is still extremely concerning for the students that reside there.

However safe Edinburgh may be in general, a city is always different for students. Students do largely stay in central areas based around the campus which will often be intended for convenience and safety. Information about ‘areas to avoid’ spreads fast through new students once university has started (exemplified with most students being aware to avoid the Meadows at night). The open and well-lit streets surrounding most popular areas for student flats makes the city feel more secure for late night walks home, which contributes to the impression of security. A further help for many is that students will often look out for each other and help someone walking alone to get home safe. This is especially noticeable during Welcome Week and first year when finding someone walking back to the same halls. Demonstrating that in many ways students can feel safer in a city than other residents.

Ultimately, people will all have differing ideas of safe, and of how safe a city will be. This study may claim that Edinburgh is safest but with the small number of participants, and likelihood of regional bias, it’s difficult to believe that it is entirely accurate. Despite this, many people do seem to love Edinburgh as a city and feel secure, and whatever the safety ranking may be, that is what matters.

Image: ian_woodhead1 via Flickr

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