Many people perceive France as a very safe country, where there are few crimes. That is one of the main reasons why foreigners choose to move to France or to buy a holiday home here, so that they may get the feeling of security and tranquillity.
Even if some urban fights can sometimes burst in the great city suburbs, France is still perceived as a civilised and safe country. Compared to the UK (Scotland and Ireland included) where there were 4.5 million recorded crimes in 2011, there were 3.3 million recorded crimes in France during the same year. Obviously, it still is a large number, but it is approximately a third lower than that in the UK.
The British government opened a website (www.police.uk) on the 1st February 2011, where you can find crime maps with all the recently recorded crimes in England and Wales.
The nature of the crimes and their severity is a bit different when UK is compared with France. Let us highlight these differences and explain them.
The following figures include data from England and Wales, but Scotland and Ireland are not included.
- Violence against Individuals and Sexual Offences
This category includes both violent and non-violent assaults, such as sexual and racial offences and child abuse. The difference between France and the UK for these types of crimes is very significant since France recorded 468,000 such offences while England and Wales recorded a number nearly twice as high at 822,000.
If we measure it compared to the level of population, France has a crime rate for assaults of 7.5/1000, while for England and Wales it is 15/1000. The difference in the total number of assaults is even greater when the real bodily harm crimes are taken into account. In France, the number is 192,000 whereas in England and Wales it is 328,000, which makes a difference of over 70%.
It is evident that crimes and violence against individuals are above all an urban phenomenon, and the population density in the UK (England is the most crowded country in Europe) seems to explain the number of crimes that take place there.
Violence committed by less than 25 year olds has increased by more than 3% since 2010. And the most worrying thing is the 8% rise of crimes with bladed weapon.
Yet, between 2009 and 2010, UK has recorded a 10% decrease of armed crimes, 6% for the crimes with wound, 11% for racial crimes, 5% for domestic violence and 5% for the homosexual violence.
- Property crimes
The most important types of crime recorded for both countries are burglary and theft. In France there were 2.1 million last year, while in the England and Wales the number was 2.8 million. The number of residential burglaries was about 258,000 in England and Wales compared to 216,000 in France with a difference of 16%.
Regarding vehicle thefts, 552,000 French were concerned by such offences as compared to 450,000 citizens in England and Wales. To compare on miscellaneous thefts, there were over 1 million such offences in England and Wales, and around 600,000 in France.
According to the level of population, these figures state a property crime rate of 34 per 1000 population in France, while for England and Wales the rate is 52/1000.
- French Regional Crime levels
It is clear that there are some disparities between the different French regions in terms of criminality. As well as in the UK, the most violent regions are also the most populated regions: for instance, the Ile de France, including capital Paris, has a 12/1000 crime rate, followed by Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur with (11/1000), and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (9/1000).
By contrast, the more rural regions have considerable lower crime rates. The lowest is in the Limousin (3.7/1000), followed by Auvergne (3.9/1000) and Burgundy (4.5/1000).
Concerning burglaries and thefts (including vehicle thefts), the observation is similar, with a crime rate of 49.6/1000 in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur, followed by the Ile-de-France with 47.6/1000. Lowest rates are in Limousin (19/1000), Auvergne (20/1000) and Lower Normandy (22/1000).
If your relocation choice is based on crime levels, Creuse in the Limousin seems to be the safest area in France! You can easily find the selection of Sextant Properties in this area, like this superb renovated former tannery in sale for €265.000 or this charming property to renovate in sale for €88.000.