Serious violence continues to fall across the Thames Valley despite relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions

Serious violence fell across the Thames Valley for the third year running in 2021 despite the loosening of restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, analysis by the Data and Targeting Team in the VRU has shown.  

In 2021, 1,327 offences meeting the VRU’s serious violence definition were recorded, down 16% from 1,579 in 2020 and 22% from the 1,699 offences recorded in 2018, the year in which recorded serious violence reached its peak in the Thames Valley. 

Serious violence continues to fall in the Thames Valley. The total of serious violence in 2021 was 1,327, down from 1,699 in 2018. Serious violence rose between 2015 and 2018.
View data at CSP level
Bracknell Forest17264356655539
Milton Keynes167180259290312281258
South Oxfordshire22333834335244
Vale of White Horse24313036324441
West Berkshire39545167566048
West Oxfordshire21303140462021
Windsor and Maidenhead507811594917857

The serious violence definition includes offences that involve a weapon or significant violence against the person, but do not include domestic violence or possession of weapons offences. 

It is worthy of note that this reduction was recorded during the period where lockdown restrictions were eased across Thames Valley and the UK as a whole, with the general public enjoying the associated freedom this brought, with the reopening of the night-time economy and larger public gatherings.

Larger urban areas across the Thames Valley saw higher rates of serious violence continuing the trend experienced over the previous six years, with Reading and Slough Community Safety Partnership (CSP) areas all recording an end of year rate for serious violence of over 1 offences per 1,000 head of population.

See data at CSP level
CSPRate of offences per 1,000 population, 2021
Bracknell Forest0.314
Milton Keynes0.955
South Oxfordshire0.306
Vale of White Horse0.297
West Berkshire0.302
West Oxfordshire0.188
Windsor and Maidenhead0.376

Slough saw the largest fall in the rate of serious violence from the peak in 2018 of -0.6 offences per 1,000 population, whilst Wokingham, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse CSPs all saw increases in the rate of serious violence.  

See data at CSP level
CSP2018 Rate per 1,000 pop2021 Rate per 1,000 popChange in Rate, 2018-2021
Wokingham0.2760.357+ 0.081
South Oxfordshire0.2360.310+ 0.070
Vale of White Horse0.2610.297+ 0.036
Milton Keynes1.0730.955– 0.118
West Berkshire0.4220.303– 0.120
Buckinghamshire0.5430.420– 0.122
Bracknell Forest0.4500.314– 0.137
West Oxfordshire0.3580.188– 0.170
Oxford1.0550.851– 0.204
Windsor and Maidenhead0.6210.377– 0.245
Cherwell0.7110.408– 0.303
Reading1.3911.073– 0.318
Slough1.6311.029– 0.602

These changes took place during a time where knife crime data quality increased due to the NDQIS data quality programme, ensuring that knife crime figures (which make up a significant proportion of recorded serious violence) are at their most accurate. Violence with and without injury were the most common serious violence crime group categories recorded in 2021.  

Whilst those aged between 18-21 continue to be the single age group with the highest numbers involved in serious violence in 2021, higher than expected numbers of those aged 25+ were involved in serious violence in 2021. During 2021, there were more individuals aged 26 and over involved in serious violence (1,412 persons) than those aged 25 and under (1,279 persons). This is significant as Home Office funding focusses attention on those aged 25 and under as a priority group to reduce violence in.  

Serious violence continues to take place predominately between “peers” – with younger victims most likely to be offended against by someone of a similar age. In 2021 around 75% of offences against those aged 11-14 were committed by those aged within the same range, whilst victims in higher age brackets were offended against by suspects from a variety of age ranges. 

This year’s SNA analysis has also uncovered worrying signs of inequality in the rates at which individuals are involved in serious violence based on their ethnicity. In 2021, individuals recorded by police as being black were victims of serious violence at a rate 4.8 times higher than those recorded as white, and involved in offences as suspects at a rate 8.7 times higher. There is a slight elevated rate of involvement amongst those recorded as Asian. Whilst these should be treated with some caution due to poor data quality, it will be important to explore this in more detail during 2022.  

Map of serious violence by 1,000 head of population:

View static map image
View top ten LSOAs
LSOA NameCSPRate per 1,000 population
Reading 011FReading11.10
Reading 011HReading10.59
Milton Keynes 018CMilton Keynes9.30
Milton Keynes 014EMilton Keynes8.16
Milton Keynes 019EMilton Keynes7.89
Aylesbury Vale 015FBuckinghamshire7.04
Reading 011IReading6.54
Slough 011BSlough6.14
Milton Keynes 032AMilton Keynes5.42
Reading 011BReading4.96