When most travelers consider visiting England, they think of London first—but when crafting your U.K. itinerary, don’t overlook Birmingham, England’s second biggest city. Birmingham is the home of J.R.R. Tolkien and Cadbury chocolate (yes, you can tour the factory), as well as hip hotels, rich museums, Victorian architecture, Michelin-starred restaurants, and a highly curated arts and culture lineup. Birmingham is also gearing up to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in facilities and city upgrades.
But is Birmingham safe? The city’s early-1900s mobsters have become infamous thanks to Netflix’s dramatic portrayal of the ruthless Peaky Blinders gang—but 100 years later, is the city still riddled with violence and shady doings?
The reality is that the Birmingham crime rate is actually lower than other cities of similar size, and that Birmingham is commonly cited as one of the U.K.’s safer places. But, as is the case with any big city, it all depends on where you go and what you do. There certainly are some rough areas of Birmingham that you won’t want to explore, and some behaviors that will increase your chances of becoming a victim. With that said, here’s a brief overview of how to stay safe in Birmingham.
How to Stay Safe in Birmingham, England
In Birmingham, it’s important to know where you’re going—and where not to go. Many of the city’s suburbs, like Bournville, are lovely and have worthwhile things to see. But understand which are the worst areas in Birmingham for crime, including Lozells, Handsworth, and Northfield, and steer clear of these roughest areas in Birmingham.
Use public transportation instead of a private vehicle, since issues related to vehicles comprise a large portion of Birmingham crime. If you choose to use hired cars, take the proper safety precautions. And always be on high alert for suspicious behavior or packages, since terrorists have targeted nearby cities in England.
Birmingham’s crime rate has always been affected by the presence of gangs. Historically, the most famous were the Peaky Blinders, but these days, active warfare continues between the Burger Bar Crew, the Johnson Crew, the Frankley Killers, and others. Though these gangs are unlikely to target travelers, it’s best to know which areas of Birmingham to avoid so that you don’t get caught in the crossfire.
I call where I live now 'uncanny valley' as it's only slightly different to Birmingham, my Brother in Law, a cockney, can't tell the difference especially between the accents but the uncanny to me is that which is slightly different, like the grass moving in a Tarkovsky movie.
Really the Black Country is now miles of boring Suburbia, see the short documentary Luv'in The Black Country. I live in one of the villages on the outskirts now. Not much to do round here.