Experts are puzzling over East Lindsey’s unusual level of crime – or the lack of it, to be exact.
Across the country, it’s a rule that poorer areas have higher crime rates, while more well-off areas enjoy lower levels.
However, East Lindsey – one of the most deprived areas of the country – breaks that trend by mysteriously having very low rates of offending.
Since the phenomenon was uncovered, it’s been discussed by police chiefs, crime experts and council bosses, who all have their own explanation for it.
East Lindsey is the 42nd most deprived area of the country, according to government metrics that take into account factors like income, employment, health, housing and education.
That should mean it experiences pretty high crime problems – yet in actual fact it ranks 247 from bottom, putting it in the top quarter.
This is the biggest gap seen anywhere in the country, according to the research by criminal justice think-tank Crest Advisory.
So what is behind the unusually peaceful life in this region?
Analyst Ellen Kirk, who wrote the study, suggests it could be down to community, something which is hard to measure compared to simple crime statistics.
“Perhaps the people of East Lindsey have a tightly-knit community which helps keep theft down. Perhaps a strong sense of civic pride means people in East Lindsey are less likely to commit criminal damage. Perhaps there is a wide variety of community groups in East Lindsey where people can build positive relationships with each other – leading to a reduction in violence,” she suggests.
But this isn’t the only answer.
Council leader Craig Leyland put forward the idea of “internal migration” – meaning the exodus of younger people from the area, and the influx of older residents.
Coastal holiday parks can be attractive as retirement areas, and older populations tend to see lower crime.
He added: “Seasonality of the coastal economy is another that sits alongside as well as the provision of skills.”
I would be very happy to discuss the various dynamics at work in East Lindsey. The internal migration as you describe is one of the issues. Seasonality of the coastal economy is another that sits alongside as well as the provision of skills.
— Craig Leyland (Cllr) Leader Eldc (@craigjleyland) May 26, 2022
Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Chris Davison – perhaps unsurprisingly – put the absence down to “ruthless efficient police work”.
However, that doesn’t explain why other parts of Lincolnshire are more in line with the national average.
Gavin Hales, a crime researcher at London Met Uni, said the unusually low record might be an “alarm bell”.
He questioned whether people were reluctant to report crimes to police.
I'd be interested to know about the potential presence of forms of informal social control, and about attitudes towards the police – both potentially 'community' factors, but not necessarily in a positive way. A much lower than expected crime rate might be an alarm bell.
— Gavin Hales (@gmhales) May 25, 2022
There’s no definitive answer to this – or even whether it’s a good thing or not.
Whether you think it’s tight community bonds, effective policing or an ageing population, there is no denying that East Lindsey stands out from the crowd.