• Kirsty Thomson

How Safe is Edinburgh really?

The Edinburgh Evening News has named the city as being the safest place to live in the UK after conducting a recent study. With cases of women being murdered and going missing, hate attacks on marginalised communities and the ever-darkening nights of winter coming in, how safe is our city really?

Photo of a person walking in the Meadows on a foggy night (November 2020) by Fiona Gray (Instagram: @fiogray)

Image description: Fiona's Gray photography focuses on the quality of the light and colours that are captured. The thick fog makes everything look more unusual and it creates the sense of a mystery noir film. Fiona Gray is interested in capturing or recreating the experience of moving through urban spaces. Connecting the photograph to the article, the dim lights across the Meadows create a sense of uneasiness that women and people from marginalised social backgrounds face going about the city of Edinburgh.


The study itself asked British citizens to share their own experiences of crime and offer testimonials about how secure they felt living in cities up and down the country. It is carried out as part of the launching of the upcoming third series of Murdertown, an investigative crime documentary that endeavours to ‘shine a light on some of Britains darkest murder locations, examining the crimes that rocked these communities’. Only three cities have been listed so far as being part of the series, none of which are in Scotland. The purpose of the ‘study’ being a promotional piece for television is only the beginning of issues, however, and these raise queries about how safe we really can feel here in Edinburgh.


The study overall polled just over 2000 people; this raises many an eyebrow considering that the population of Edinburgh alone is nearing 500,000. The study found that across the whole of the UK, 31% of individuals at one point have felt unsafe in their homes. Furthermore, half of those polled stated they had been a victim of crime, reporting that break-ins were the most popular amongst experienced offences. Of the participants living in Edinburgh, however, a whopping 82% stated that they feel safe here in the capital; a figure placing Edinburgh at the top of the list ahead of all other major British cities. The polling found the following to be the 15 safest cities in the UK:


  1. Edinburgh

  2. Southampton

  3. Sheffield

  4. Norwich

  5. Leicester

  6. Manchester

  7. Newcastle

  8. Cambridge

  9. Liverpool

  10. Glasgow

  11. Bristol

  12. Leeds

  13. Birmingham

  14. London

  15. Cardiff

The poll itself was simply two questions: ‘What is your experience of crime?’ and ‘Generally how safe do you feel?’. The survey website offers little clarification as to the actual specificities of their study; there is no way of knowing the number of Edinburgh residents there were in the study nor the demographic of those who were surveyed. With the recent murder of Sabina Nessa in London and the still unknown location of a young Edinburgh woman, one cannot help but wonder who specifically was questioned about their experiences. People from marginalised social backgrounds in Edinburgh are consistently victims of violent crime-this is curious considering the study reported that the most popularly experienced offence were break-ins. Burglaries can often incorporate violence, but unlike rape and hate crimes they don’t necessarily inherently impose a physical threat to the victim. This perhaps is why such a high number reported feeling safe in their homes.


At the university, a recent campaign by Femsoc endeavoured to look at the extent to which self-identifying women felt at threat during Freshers week. The start of term is a particularly stressful and high-risk period for crime; parties, club nights, students gathering in numbers and the coming of autumn, though for some are a time of great self-discovery, can also be a point at which people are most vulnerable to harm. One cannot help but suggest that if young people, particularly those from disadvantaged and marginalised communities, were questioned about their experiences of Edinburgh if the same results would emerge.


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