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The UK’s safest cities for parking revealed

Many of us have been unlucky enough to be on the wrong end of vehicle crime. From vandalism and damage right up to theft, it can cause victims a great deal of stress on top of any financial repercussions. At Uswitch, our priority is making sure that you have access to the best cover against these incidents, but we’re also here to inform you about how to keep yourself and your vehicle safe

It should come as no surprise that plenty of car-based crime is centred around the city centre car parks that we all rely on for convenient access to high streets. But which areas in the UK are being hit hardest by criminal behaviour?

Key Findings:

  • Bristol is the least safe city for parking with the highest average crime rate in its car parks according to our study, whilst Wigan tops the safety charts.

  • Out of 200 of the busiest car parks across 73 towns and cities, St Davids in Exeter had the least incidences of vehicle crime whilst Covent Garden, London was a hotspot for criminal activity.

  • Brits spend an average of almost £2,000 per year on parking, making it one of the priciest aspects of owning a car.

As restrictions begin to lift across the UK, with shops reopening and people going back to work in towns and cities, it’s important to know if extra precautions are required to keep your car secure in your area.

Read on to learn about which cities offer the safest parking and which don’t fare quite as well, along with our tips to avoid becoming a victim of vehicle crime. 

Which UK car parks are the safest?

We studied 200 of the UK’s busiest car parks across several of the largest operators to find the most and least secure car parks based on their immediate postcodes. Our research isn’t an indictment of security measures put in place by individual car parks and is meant to offer an overview of vehicle crime hotspots with a focus on the city centre parking we all rely on day to day.

The definition of vehicle crime we’re using in this study covers the following:

  • Aggravated vehicle taking

  • Theft of a motor vehicle

  • Theft from a motor vehicle

  • Interference with a motor vehicle

  • Theft from vehicle other than a motor vehicle

So, without further ado, let’s look at where you can park with peace of mind and which car parks you might consider swerving.

Where is the UK’s car park crime capital?

Now that we’ve identified the most and least safe car parks across the UK – it’s time to look at which area is the most affected by vehicle crime. Based on our study of 73 UK locations, here are the areas we found to be the best and worst where the security of your car is concerned.

Zooming out from cities to a regional overview, Greater London came out as the least safe area on average for car parking followed by the South West and West Midlands. At the opposite end of the spectrum the North East had the safest parking overall with the North East and Northern Ireland not far behind.

What can you do to keep your car safe?

If you live in one of the worst affected areas, there’s no reason to swear off parking near the city centre. Here is some advice based on official guidance by the Met Police on how to keep your vehicle and belongings safe.

You should also consider a comprehensive insurance policy to cover you and your vehicle if you must use public parking frequently. You can learn more about the different types on offer in our guide to the basics of car insurance.

How to save money on car parking

Thieves and vandals aren’t the only ones accused of stealing – the cost of getting parked in the UK’s city centres has risen sharply. In fact, the average Brit spends almost £2,000 per year on parking alone according to research by transport analytics specialists Inrix.

With this in mind, here are some top tips on how to save yourself a few quid when looking for that perfect space.

  • Use free online tools like Parkopedia or Parkme to help you compare rates on city centre parking before setting off.

  • Consider parking further out – while it may mean a little bit more of a walk into the centre, you’ll save money and get a bit of exercise. Sites like JustPark even let people hire out their driveways if you’re happy hoofing it from the suburbs.

  • Use services which allow you to pay for parking via your phone and alerts you when time is running out to avoid any pesky fines or additional charges.

  • If you still prefer using cash, make sure that you use the correct amount. Often, ticket machines won’t give you change, so you’ll end up overpaying. It may be a small amount each time, but these things add up.

  • Check for cashback options. City centre supermarkets often operate pay and display car parks but will take this amount off your in-store purchase. Similarly, some local authorities have set up schemes where you’ll be refunded your parking amount for shopping in participating stores.

  • Finally, don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re parking somewhere unfamiliar, odds are someone will be more than happy to offer advice on where the best (and, more importantly, cheapest) places to park are.

Whether you’re after more insights into the automotive industry, like our look into the data security risks of connected cars, or want to find out how we can help you get the best deals on car insurance, we’ve got you covered.