Pretty Irish village named crime blackspot: why?

Donegal landscape

There were a few surprised gasps when a list of crime blackspots in Ireland was released by the Central Statistics Office. The picturesque town of Kerrykeel in Donegal emerged as a major crime hotbed, with a huge spike in fraud, burglary and sexual assault.

So what happened, and where is crime really rife?
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Mistake

There must have been plenty of raised eyebrows among the 400 residents of Kerrykeel, who may have been starting to view their neighbours in a different light.

However, things were swiftly resolved, as the CSO admitted to the Journal that a computer glitch was to blame. The pretty little village had actually been assigned the crimes of Dublin's city centre. The editor of the local paper told the BBC that it had caused a local stir, but that people were starting to see the funny side.

So where are the real blackspots?

The Home Office publishes details of crime in every area, and you can check your locality on the crime map of the UK.

Last month the Mail on Sunday interrogated these figures to reveal the postcodes in the UK with the worst crime problems (between January 2012 and June 2013).

Shopping centres

It highlighted that E15 1AZ was the worst spot for crime. This is home to Meridian Square in Stratford, East London, which saw 3,440 crimes in this period. It is where the Westfield shopping centre is based.

The area has always struggled with opportunist crime and gangs which operate locally. There is also a knife culture to contend with in this part of East London. The opening of a major shopping centre added 500 instances of shoplifting to the statistics. Luxury stores in close proximity to a troubled neighbourhood were always going to see an element of this sort of crime.

However, there was undoubtedly the effect of the Olympics to take into consideration too, which saw people flood through the area. Large crowds, distracted people, and those who were not used to densely populated areas with a high creme rate were easy pickings.

Second on the list was the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush, which saw 2,542 crimes in this period. Almost all the crimes in this area were shoplifting and theft. The most notorious theft from this centre was in 2010 when a gang of ten people wielding sledgehammers burst into the centre and stole tens of thousands of pounds worth of jewellery from De Beers and Tiffany. However, most of these crimes are relatively low value opportunistic thefts from the largest in-town shopping centre in Europe.

Stations

The rest of the top five were made up of Newgate Street in Newcastle in third place (with 1,613 crimes) - which has a history of anti-social behaviour to mix in with the usual city centre problems. Aire Street in Leeds was fourth - which contains the railway station and its large distracted crowds (with 1,629 crimes) and Seymour Street in Marylebone, London was fifth (with 1,613 crimes) - which has a car crime problem as well as the usual high-street mix of incidents. Ironically a police station on the street was recently closed.

The rest of the top ten were taken up by stations and an airport. Stansted was sixth, Manchester Piccadilly station was seventh, Victoria rail and coach stations were eighth, Kings Cross and St Pancras station was ninth and Euston Station was tenth. Clearly there are plenty of potential victims in these places, carrying luggage, and leaving valuables unattended in large crowds.

It's a useful reminder of the dangers of travelling, and how we need to pay attention in busy stations. It's worth checking out our recent guide to the pickpockets' tricks and how to beat them.
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