So, you’re planning a trip to London. You’ve probably heard about the city’s West End. Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Buckingham Palace are all on the heavy tourist rotation. But if you want to experience a truer side to London – a London lesser-known by tourists – you should head East. Victoria Park, Regent’s Canal, Columbia Road Flower Market – there are lots of great places to visit in East London. But is East London safe?
On the whole, London is a safe city to visit. According to the Economist’s Safe Cities Index, London is the fourteenth safest city in the world. Visiting East London poses no greater risk to tourists than visiting other parts of the city. Of course, nowhere is without its safety threats, and visitors should exercise basic common sense when it comes to keeping themselves safe.
But let’s look at it on a more granular level. From living in East London to walking around it at night, join us as we break down everything you need to know to keep safe in this part of the city.
Is East London safe?
Generally speaking, East London is safe. But this isn’t to say that crime never occurs here. According to Metropolitan Police data in 2021, the most common crimes in London at large include violence against the person, followed by theft. This may sound a bit unnerving, but random acts of violence are rare in London. The city certainly suffers from worrying rates of knife crime, but stabbings are usually gang and drug-related, posing minimal threat to third parties.
The East End has historically been home to some of the most deprived areas in London, with relatively high rates of crime. However, large parts of East London, particularly boroughs such as Hackney and Islington, have been massively gentrified in recent years, which has seen them become safer. There are still areas of East London with significant levels of crime.
According to Metropolitan Police data, the boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets were considered the second and third most dangerous boroughs in London in 2021. Stats, however, don’t always paint the full picture. Just because an area has higher rates of crime, doesn’t mean you won’t be safe walking around it in broad daylight! We’d recommend speaking to local people to get a better picture of which streets you’re better off avoiding, and those that are perfectly safe to explore.
Is East London safe for tourists?
East London is perfectly safe for tourists. The most common crimes inflicted against tourists in London are pickpocketing, mugging and scams. You’re actually much more likely to encounter these types of dangers in the tourist hotspots of central London than you are out East. This is because petty criminals journey into the center of town to target tourists where they know that they tend to hang out. As a much less touristy area, tourists are less of a target for pickpocketing and scams in East London. However, visitors should stay vigilant in this part of town. The same rules apply in East London as they do anywhere else – don’t visibly carry around large amounts of cash, always keep an eye on your possessions, and avoid unlit streets after dark.
Is it safe to live in East London?
Generally speaking, East London is a safe place to live and it’s becoming an increasingly popular place to live. In recent years, major developments have attracted young professionals to swanky, high-rise developments in once deprived areas such as Bethnal Green and Stratford. Meanwhile, areas such as Hackney have become some of the most sought-after places in London to move to.
On the whole, East London is no more dangerous than London at large. House break-ins and muggings do happen here from time to time, so residents must remain vigilant when it comes to securing their possessions and walking alone at night. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a large city where these sorts of precautions aren’t necessary.
Is transport in East London safe?
East London is largely serviced by a network of buses, tubes, and overground trains – all of which are perfectly safe options for travel by day and night. Ride-hailing services such as Bolt and Uber are also prolific in this part of London, as are London’s so-called black cabs. When hailing a cab, always ensure you are getting into a registered vehicle.
Is it safe to walk alone in East London?
During the daytime, it is certainly safe to walk alone in East London. And in most parts of East London, you’ll be perfectly safe walking alone at night. People of all genders walk freely through East London by themselves every day, without thinking twice. However, common sense applies here. If you’re walking down well-lit and busy roads, you’ll likely be safe. However, you could make yourself vulnerable by walking down quiet streets and alleyways after dark. It’s worth assessing the route you are going to take before deciding to walk by yourself after dark. If it’s late and there’s no one about, you might be better off hailing yourself an Uber.
There have been a number of murders targeting young women, mainly in South London, over the last year. While extremely sad, these incidents are still very rare, and London remains a relatively safe city for women, in comparison to other countries.
Keeping safe in East London, 7 top tips
Speak to local people. The best people to give you detailed and up-to-date safety information are the locals. have a chat with someone from your hotel, Airbnb or a local business to get a good steer on the places to avoid and those that are perfectly safe.
Always keep an eye on your possessions. While pickpockets are less likely to operate in East London than they are in the city’s tourist center, theft does occur in East London. Visitors should keep a key eye on their possessions at all times. This means keeping your rucksack on your front side when on transport or in crowded spaces, never leaving your bag loose under a table at a restaurant, and not storing your phone in your back pocket!
Don’t use your phone near busy roads. When you’re on your phone, you’re usually less aware of your surroundings. If you happen to be standing by a busy road using your phone, it’s easy for someone to whizz by on a motorbike and grab it right out of your hand. This type of drive-by theft is becoming increasingly common in London, even outside of the busy touristy zones. It’s usually perfectly safe to use your phone in the street in London, but make sure you’re not stood too close to the road as you could make yourself a target.
Avoid quiet and poorly-lit streets when walking alone at night. This one speaks to itself. Nine times out of ten, you’ll be absolutely fine walking around London at night, but you’d rather be safe than sorry – hail a taxi when walking alone through unlit areas at night.
If you’re mugged, don’t resist. There’s a high chance that you’ll never have to act upon this advice, but do try to remember that should you be mugged, it’s not wise to struggle. While no one wants to hand over their possessions, it’s always the safer option than risking angering a potentially armed criminal.
Stay out of parks at night. The majority of London’s parks are locked after sunset. It could be tempting to hop the fence for a late-night stroll, but we’d advise against it. Who knows what kinds of shady figures could be lurking in the parks and commons after dark. To avoid any potentially dangerous encounters we’d suggest steering clear.
Read the room. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to safety in East London. Someone wearing expensive jewelry and flashing the cash will look right at place in some of the posher parts of Hackney and Islington but may make themselves a target in more deprived areas of East London. It’s best to dress and behave according to the environment you find yourself in.
Interested in how London compares to other UK destinations? Check out our London vs Edinburgh comparison guide.