Is Bristol Safe? An Ultimate Guide to Safety in Bristol

Bristol is a diverse and vibrant city in the South West of England, situated on the River Frome and River Avon. It is often referred to as a university city with its two universities and multi-culturalism; Bristol has at least 147 countries of birth and 91 primary languages. Bristol is also a green city with over 400 parks and gardens in the city. However, Bristol is often considered a rough and less safe place to live and visit in the UK because of its high crime rate.

In 2022, Bristol city centre was named one of England and Wales’s ‘most dangerous’ places. The city centre ranked 47th in the most dangerous places in England and Wales; this area had a total of 7,729 crimes within the 12 months leading to January 2022. This is a rate of 388 crimes per 1000 people who live there.

As someone who lives close to Bristol, I feel relatively safe walking around the city and don’t see it as the worst area in terms of safety. However, at night it can become rowdier and isn’t always well-lit in places, leaving you to feel a little less safer than during the day. A lot of crimes happen in Bristol because it is a major city, but it doesn’t mean the city as a whole is unsafe for all visitors.

The following guide will answer any concerns about visiting or moving to Bristol, so you can determine your opinion of the city. So let’s find out, is Bristol safe?

Is Bristol safe to visit?

If you are travelling as a couple or with a group of family or friends, it poses fewer problems than travelling alone. If anyone approaches you suspiciously, you’re likelier to feel safer with others around you. Bristol is a busy city, so there are always people around that would be alert to danger. Bristolians tend to be friendly people whenever I’ve visited too. 

Overall, at the end of 2022, the crime rate in Bristol’s city centre was 98 crimes per 1,000 people. Bristol’s crime rate as a whole city was 118 per 1,000 residents. Bristol was the safest major city in the UK, but still one of the more dangerous cities out of all the UK cities. At the end of last year, Bristol had the worst crime rate for bicycle theft and one of the most dangerous areas for burglary, with 219 crimes per 1,000 residents. The most common crimes that year in Bristol overall was violence and sexual offences, with 21,477 offences.

So, is Bristol safe? While the statistics above show Bristol to be an unsafe place with a high crime rate, Bristol feels reasonably safe when going to Cabot Circus, or exploring the Harbourside area, for example. I have never had any trouble when visiting Bristol. Still, it is always best to be cautious and avoid certain areas that may be more dangerous. Remaining cautious of the statistics and the people around you will allow for a fun, enjoyable, and safe time in the gorgeous city.

Is Bristol safe at night?

Bristol has a range of bars and restaurants to visit, such as Pitcher and Piano, Lost & Found, Las Iguanas, and Harbour House. The Harbourside area is also a great place to visit for a fun night out; however, like any major city, there is always a risk with going out at night. It is best to stay in a group and not walk alone in the dark – if you have to, always carry a personal safety alarm and choose well-lit streets.

If you stay around the city centre at night, there are usually plenty of people around, especially with it being a university city, you’ll always see freshers and party-goers at the weekend, who are in groups. From the statistics above, the city centre can be unsafe and may be an area to avoid for some. However, Bristol is still a fun place to visit at night, and as long as you are cautious, it is not the most unsafe city to be in at night.

For the last thirteen years, Bristol has been awarded the purple flag accreditation, an award given to cities that provide a fun yet safe night out. Bristol was recognised for ‘its vibrant and diverse mix of dining, entertainment, and culture on offer while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and local residents.’

Is Bristol safe to live in? 

Roughly 724,000 people live in Bristol. Of this number, there are around 20,272 crimes committed annually which equates to 28.9 crimes per 1,000 people. So, is Bristol safe to live in?

The city centre has the most crime so this would be the worst and more dangerous area to live in. Clifton and Redland have more burglaries than the rest of Bristol, but this is because there are many large-family homes in this area. This may be one of the worst areas to find a house in and an area to avoid. The best areas to live in Bristol may be Cadbury Heath North & Bridgeyate, Downend North, and Westbury on Trym, as these areas have the lowest crime rate in Bristol. Bristol is relatively safe to live in, but it depends on what areas you move to, as there will be worst areas, like in all cities. It depends on where you live as to how safe you will feel. All cities have their rough areas.

If you are considering moving to Bristol, the best general advice is to do your research, look into the safest neighborhoods, and read up on local news to see which areas to avoid.

Is Bristol safe for women? 

Like every city, compared to men, women are at a higher risk of violence and sexual violence. Bristol’s crime rates for women are no higher than any other major city, and it is mostly safe for women to travel to. Many solo travellers visit Bristol, a friendly city with plenty of history, art, food, and green spaces. As long as you follow common sense and precautions, especially if you are a woman going out at night, you should be safe in Bristol. 

Is Bristol safe for students?

Bristol is a ‘friendly and vibrant city with a fantastic atmosphere for students, as the University of Bristol declares. There is always a lot going on in Bristol, especially in the arts and cultural sector and nightlife, so it is very popular for people coming to university here. However, new students should know Bristol’s crime rates and how to keep safe in a city. It is no less safe than any other major city in the UK for students, such as Birmingham or London.

It has been awarded the Purple Flag status and ‘secured environment’ status in a police certification scheme. The University of Bristol also has its own Security Services and a University Police Officer.

Is Bristol city centre safe?

Bristol city centre is the most dangerous area of Bristol and an area to avoid for some locals. This isn’t surprising, with it being where many people visit, from tourists to locals. However, it is still the best place to visit in Bristol; it just means you should remain more cautious in this area. 

Temple Meads and Kingsdown & Stokes Croft are the second and third most dangerous places in Bristol, so it may be worth avoiding these areas when you can, more than the city centre, which is the key area to visit.

Conclusion: Is Bristol safe?

Is Bristol safe? In my opinion, Bristol is a city that is well worth a visit to explore the beautiful Harbourside, the shops and restaurants on offer near Cabot Circus, the historical sites and museums, and music festivals in the summer. Bristol’s crime rate is high, with the crime rate in Bristol being 59% higher than in the South West and 18% higher than the UK overall figure. Yet, travel with others and follow precautions when out at night. You should be able to keep an eye out on anything suspicious, which will make you feel safer while ensuring you are safe too.

Whether you want to move to Bristol or visit for a day out or a long weekend, it is a fun, lively city that should be high on your UK bucket list. Don’t forget to check out these free things to do in Bristol.

By Cara-Louise Scott 

Cara-Louise Scott is a student journalist currently living in Birmingham. Having recently finished her undergraduate degree, she regularly writes for her student paper and Empoword, and has a passion for all things travel, food and books. She is due to begin her NCTJ course in the Autumn to become a qualified journalist.

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