Car ownership, while liberating, can come with some burdens. There’s a need for you to keep on top of maintenance and repairs, the growing costs of gas and adhering to the many laws of the road. And if that wasn’t enough, there is also the risk that criminals may target your car.
The countless laws of the road, such as the legal obligation for your car to have seatbelts and for all inside the vehicle to be wearing one, are in place to better protect road users and even pedestrians. And while the cost of maintaining your vehicle and keeping your car insurance may be a financial burden to many, those things are again necessary to keep you and others safe on the road.
However, despite these being legal obligations, many use the roads and do not observe these laws. This, when the transgressor is caught by any number of roadside cameras or police, can lead to punishments, which can range from a fine, points on your licence, a driving ban or even prison time.
And even if you do adhere to the laws of the road, that doesn’t stop criminals from potentially targeting your vehicle. Whether that be damaging your car and stealing possessions within or even stealing the car in its entirety.
That said, there are ways to better protect yourself. As previously mentioned, you can insure your car which can protect you against damage to your vehicle, accidents on the road and even theft of your vehicle. There is a range of different insurance packages at different price points, even temporary car insurance for learners or infrequent drivers.
With so many legalese being involved in owning a car, GoShorty has looked at a range of UK government data to determine which car-related crimes are the most common. Its have also looked at which areas in the UK these crimes are most commonly committed. This will provide insight into how things have changed since our last Car Crime Hotspots report!
Below, we have the most common car crimes that occur in the UK, updated with the most recently available data. Combining the number of occurrences for each crime by region, we have the national totals and have ranked them from most to least commonly occurring.
1. Speed limit offences – 2,854,757
The most common car crime in the UK is once again speed limit offences, this time however, the annual national total is up to more than 2.8 million. This is an increase of around one million from last year. As ever, these speed limits should not be disregarded as they are in place to ensure everyone is travelling at a safe speed for each road in the country.
2. Theft from vehicle – 199,432
Another unchanged ranking, we again have thefts from vehicles as the second most commonly committed car crime in the UK. For 2021-22, there were 199,432, an increase of around 7,000 from the year prior. This serves as a reminder to not leave valuables in your vehicles, especially where they can be seen by criminals.
3. Criminal damage to a vehicle – 169,797
And the third most common car crime in the UK is criminal damage to a vehicle, unchanged from last year. However, the number of occurrences of this crime has increased, by more than 10,000. This crime is when someone consciously inflicts damage upon someone else’s vehicle, which can happen during a heated disagreement or even if someone hits your car with theirs and simply drives off; even if accidental, this should be considered vandalism.
The parts of the country where each car crime is most common
With the most common car crimes in the country revealed, we now look at the car crime hotspots in the UK.
We have already established that speed limit laws are in place to better protect users of the road and even pedestrians. These speed limits are in place to ensure that everyone travels at a safe speed to reduce the risk of road collisions, involving other drivers or pedestrians. As such, these limits should be adhered to as closely as possible.
Offences per 100,000 people: 11,567
Lincolnshire is once again the UK’s speed hotspot, with 11,567 instances of speeding offences, per 100,000 people. This is a significant decrease over the previous year, which was 13,420 per 100,000 people.
Anyone can find themselves a victim of this crime, though it’s more likely to happen should you leave your car filled with valuables where there is limited CCTV coverage.
1. London (City & Met)
Offences per 100,000 people: 697
London once again has the most theft from vehicle offences in the UK, with 697 per 100,000 people, a slightly higher rate than last year. The gap between first and second place, however, is smaller this year, with second-placed West Midlands having 519 offences per 100,000 people.
This can be one of the most frustrating car crimes to be targeted by when someone damages your vehicle for seemingly no good reason. And, while comprehensive car insurance can offer you some protection, it can often leave you concerned about the area you park your car.
Offences per 100,000 people: 449
Unchanged from last year, we have the historic county of Cleveland, located in the North East of England, with the highest rates of criminal damage to vehicles. They recorded 449 per 100,000 people, which is a slight increase from the previous figures.
Just as having your car damaged can be a stressful experience, having your entire vehicle stolen can leave the owner of the car distraught and deeply inconvenienced. And while insurance may again cover this crime, this does not lessen the effect it can have.
1. West Midlands
Offences per 100,000 people: 419
West Midlands comes out as the area with the most car theft offences in the UK, with 419 per 100,000 people. The year previous, London placed first with 278 car thefts per 100,000, so this is quite the increase.
Traffic directions can take many forms, from road signs to traffic lights, and should not be taken lightly or ignored. They are in place to ensure that traffic runs smoothly and to also guide pedestrians as they navigate crossings. Neglecting these directions can put you, other road users and pedestrians in severe danger.
Offences per 100,000 people: 480
Leicestershire has the most neglect of traffic directions offences, registering 480 instances of this particular offence, per 100,000 people. Previously, Surrey had the most offences of this kind, with 416.
Legally, all vehicles on the road are required to have a basic element of insurance, this serves to protect yourself and other road users in the event of an accident. Driving without any insurance will result in a £300 fine and up to six points on your licence. Though in the event this goes to court, you could get an unlimited fine and be disqualified from driving.
An option that may appeal to many road users, is to utilise short-term car insurance, a highly flexible and fast-growing form of coverage. This way, if borrowing a car or you’re an infrequent driver you can ensure you’re fully and legally covered whilst driving.
Offences per 100,000 people: 275
With 275 vehicle insurance Offences per 100,000 people, Norfolk takes the number one spot, unchanged from the year prior. However, the number of offences has decreased somewhat, as previously Norfolk recorded 292 offences per 100,000 people.
The seat belt has been a legal requirement since 1983 in the UK and has undoubtedly been responsible for saving countless lives. Despite this, it is the seventh most common car crime in the UK. If you are caught not wearing a seatbelt when you should be, you could face a fine of up to £500.
Offences per 100,000 people: 437
Gloucestershire has registered 437 seat belt offences per 100,000 people, making it the most offending area in the UK for this specific crime. Second place, Humberside also registered 265 per 100,000 people. The top six ranking areas in the UK for this offence all registered more than 200 offences per 100,000.
This is when the person in charge of a vehicle does so without the proper care and attention required, falling below the minimum standards expected of a competent driver. This can endanger other road users, the fixed penalty for this offence is a £100 fine and three points on your licence.
Offences per 100,000 people: 275
Essex by far has the most careless driving offences (where mobile phones are not concerned) with 275 per 100,000 people. Every other area in the UK managed below 200.
Interfering with a motor vehicle refers to someone tampering with a car, internal and external car parts, or the contents of a car. This offence can result in a prison sentence of up to three months.
1. West Midlands
Offences per 100,000 people: 163
The West Midlands recorded 163 instances of this crime per 100,000 people, making it the number one offender of this crime. There is quite a gap between second-placed London, who recorded just 125 per 100,000 people.
With the use of your vehicle comes the inevitable wear and tear on its components, leading to faults that can potentially put yourself and other road users at risk. However, this is where MOT tests come in, as every vehicle is required to have one annually, to make sure your vehicle is road-safe. Driving without having passed an MOT test is an offence.
Offences per 100,000 people: 259
Norfolk retains first place for the most vehicle test offences per 100,000 people in the UK, with 259, an increase of around 100 compared to last year’s numbers. In second place was Humberside with 202, which is also quite a gap.
Driving under the influence of substances such as drugs and alcohol is against the law, as it is extremely dangerous and can put road users at serious risk. Breath tests are the main way of catching culprits, a positive test of refusal of the test being indicative of a crime being committed.
Offences per 100,000 people: 232
With 232 instances per 100,000 people of breath tests coming back positive or refused, Gloucestershire is the number one offender of this particular crime. Last year, Gloucestershire also ranked first, however, their figure was much higher at 303 per 100,000.
All vehicles using public roads, which is the majority, need to be properly taxed and registered. Road tax is what helps to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the UK’s road network, making them safer to use, as such it is important drivers contribute to this tax.
Offences per 100,000 people: 181
Gloucestershire once again tops the rankings, this time for vehicle registration and excise licence offences, with 181 occurrences of this offence per 100,000 people. Only Norfolk and Humberside, alongside Gloucestershire, managed more than 100 occurrences of this offence in the UK per 100,000 people.
Every driver in the UK is legally required to have a driver’s licence, this serves as proof that you are a competent driver who can observe all the laws of the road. Learners can drive using a provisional driving licence, but only so long as they are accompanied by another individual who has had their full driving licence for several years. Driving without a licence is a severe offence, and if caught, can get you up to six penalty points and a fine of up to £5,000.
Offences per 100,000 people: 135
England’s capital city has the highest rate of driving licence-related offences in the UK, with 135 per 100,000 people. Narrowly in second place, we have Humberside, with 119, making these two areas the only ones in the UK with more than 100 offences for this crime per 100,000 people.
Using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving can distract the driver’s attention from the road, potentially putting other road users at risk of serious injury or worse. As such, it is illegal to do so in the UK and can result in six points on your licence and a £200 fine. If you passed your driving test within two years of being caught doing so, your licence can be revoked.
Offences per 100,000 people: 99
With 99 occurrences per 100,000 of the area’s population, Cheshire has the highest rate of people being caught using hand-held mobile phones while driving. Every area in the UK had below 100 occurrences of this offence per 100,000 people, but that figure could stand to be even lower.
It is illegal to park your car in certain places as this can obstruct traffic and pedestrians, as well as block access to sites. Parts of the road where parking is not permitted should be clearly marked, this is typically done with the use of double yellow lines. It is also an offence to mount the curb with your vehicle and block a walkway.
Offences per 100,000 people: 151
Merseyside has the most obstruction, waiting and parking offences in the UK, with 151 occurrences per 100,000 people. Thames Valley came in second with 107, while every other area in the UK was below 100 offences.
It is important that all drivers using the road ensure that all components of their vehicles are in full working order. Not doing so can potentially put yourself and other road users at risk. Depending on the fault, you could receive a fine and three points on your licence for each faulty component, such as a bald tyre or broken headlight.
Offences per 100,000 people: 114
Unchanged from last year, Norfolk has the highest rate of vehicles being in dangerous or defective conditions, with 114 occurrences of this offence per 100,000 people. Previously, the rate was 79 occurrences per 100,000 people, illustrating the rapid increase of this offence in Norfolk.
Neglect of pedestrian rights refers to instances where drivers and road users may have made life more difficult for pedestrians, such as driving on pathways or blocking pedestrian crossings. You also owe a duty of care to pedestrians who are on the road surface.
1. West Yorkshire
Offences per 100,000 people: 41
West Yorkshire has the most neglect of pedestrian rights offences in the UK, with 41 occurrences per 100,000 people. Every other area in the UK managed to have less than 30 occurrences of this offence.
Dangerous driving is quite self-explanatory, it refers to behaviour exhibited by a driver that could endanger themselves or others using the road. Depending on the severity of the situation, this can result in a prison sentence of several years, a hefty fine and a driving ban.
1. West Yorkshire
Offences per 100,000 people: 40
Having recorded 40 occurrences per 100,000 people of dangerous driving offences, West Yorkshire is the biggest dangerous driving offender in the UK. In second place, Greater Manchester recorded 34 offences per 100,000, with third-placed Cleveland having half that number.
This crime differs from just car theft, as it often involves the forceful robbery of a person’s vehicle and typically injury to the owner of the vehicle. This offence can land you a two-year prison sentence.
Offences per 100,000 people: 19
Kent has the highest number of aggravated vehicle-taking offences in the UK, with 19 occurrences per 100,000 people. Greater Manchester took second place, with 16 offences per 100,000 people, and Durham came third with a rate of 15.
Causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving is an extremely serious offence, and thankfully the least common car crime in the UK. If the crime was committed after the 28th of July 2022, it can result in a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, otherwise, it’s a fourteen-year prison sentence.
Offences per 100,000 people: 3
Kent is the area with the most incidents of death or serious injury caused by dangerous driving in the UK, with a rate of 2.73 per 100,000 people. Greater Manchester came second, with a rate of 2.67 and West Yorkshire was third with 2.64.
GoShorty wanted to look at car crime throughout the UK, identifying the most commonly committed crimes as well as where in the UK each crime is most commonly committed. To do this, it has government data to look at fixed penalty notices for motoring offences (table FPN_03) and tests (table bt_02) for the 2021 calendar year, as well as additional crime data for the 2021-22 financial year.
The company then used ONS to take the population numbers for each police area, calculating the number of each car crime per 100,000 of each area’s population. For London, it combined the figures for the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police.