The UK is 11 per cent less peaceful than a decade ago, driven by increases in reported violent crime, weapons crime, and public disorder offences. The reported violent crime rate has risen by more than a third in the last decade, exceeding 1,200 crimes per 100,000 people on average across the UK.

These figures, detailed by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) in the second edition of the UK Peace Index (UKPI), reveal that among the Police Force Areas of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the West Midlands, Greater Glasgow, and Belfast City are the UK’s least peaceful areas.

The Index covers 66 Police Force Areas, or PFAs, across England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Of these, 58 areas deteriorated in the last year, while eight improved in the last year. This represents the largest number of areas to decline in a single year since 2018.

Over the past decade, the UK has experienced a substantial and sustained increase in direct violence. While the homicide rate has fallen seven per cent since 2012, violent crime has risen by more than a third, exceeding 1,200 reported crimes per 100,000 people on average. The public disorder rate has also mirrored this trend, tripling since 2012, with the most significant increase occurring in England and Wales, where the rate is now more than 1,000 reported public disorder incidents per 100,000 people.

Sexual offences have also seen a marked increase, potentially reflecting heightened reporting and awareness.

Over the past decade, six periods of GDP per capita decline coincided with increases in violent crime, weapons offences, and public disorder, alongside a notable reduction in police officer numbers. Police rates across the UK have declined ten per cent since 2012. While more police officers do not necessarily mean a decline in crime, the concurrent trends suggest that this could be one reason why recorded crime rates have increased.

Knife crime rates in England and Wales are now over a fifth higher than they were a decade ago. More than a third of PFAs have recorded knife crime rates that are more than double their 2012 levels. Youths aged 10 to 17 represent the highest proportion of offenders detained for weapons offences, with a rate of 60 detentions per 100,000 youths compared to the adult rate of 32 detentions per 100,000 adults.

Potential causes for the increase in knife crime amongst youths include reduced funding to youth services and increased antisocial activity such as drug use. With nearly half of young people expressing concern about knife crime in their local area and both the Conservative and Labour parties pledging to address violent crime in their election campaigns, it is evident that knife crime is a major issue impacting safety and security in the UK. 

Despite the rise in certain crimes, total recorded crime rates have remained relatively stable, with notable declines in property and drug offences since 2012. The UK remains one of the most peaceful countries globally, ranked 34th on the 2024 Global Peace Index.

The UKPI uses police-reported crime data, acknowledging that this may not capture all offences. Trends can be influenced by changes in recording practices and public reporting, making long-term comparisons challenging. The UKPI aims to shift the conversation around violence from focusing solely on crime rates and trends to understanding the broader causes, costs, effects, and implications of violence. This comprehensive approach is essential for achieving a more peaceful society.

Download the United Kingdom Peace Index 2024 Briefing here.

About the United Kingdom Peace Index (UKPI) 

This is the second edition of the UK Peace Index (UKPI), covering 66 Police Force Areas (PFAs) across England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. The UKPI is unique in that it allows for safety and security analysis at both the national and subnational levels. This approach provides an in-depth analysis of the factors influencing peace and safety within the United Kingdom, highlighting trends and issues from 2012 to 2022.


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 per 100,000 population)

Each of these five indicators is given a weighting of between 1 and 5. 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 from March 2012 to March 2022 and aggregated by the Home Office, Office for National Statistics, Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.


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Vision of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.