Maybe you’re a depressive, suicidal masochist and are visiting Riga for the first and (you hope) last time? If so, you’ve probably asked yourself the golden question: “Where can I get mugged, murdered or beaten up in Riga?”
Ask a local and they’ll probably say “Maskatchka” (Maskavas) or “Avotu.” Bolderāja will probably be mentioned by a few as well. When I started doing this, it was one of the questions which I asked too, as I wanted to finish this without having scars for every district I’d visited. The Central Statistics Bureau of Latvia though, told me they didn’t have such info. Fortunately, Ritvars came to the rescue and pointed me to this link. The interface does have all the raw data, but it’s absolutely rubbish.
Of course there are still problems with counting what are the higher crime districts. The apkaimes of Riga vary greatly in size, from Spilve and Salas, with just over 80 people, to Purvciems, with nearly 60,000. So I decided to look at two things. Assaults (the TĪŠS MIESAS BOJĀJUMS tab) and murder (the SLEPKAVĪBA tab) and work out number of people per each crime for last year.
Even with that, there are still problems. The smaller districts don’t provide representative figures due to their size and secondly, Riga’s murder rate is (thankfully) small. To deal with the first problem, I split it into two tables. One for the 19 districts with less than 1,500 people and the other, for districts over 1,500.
The first table is number of people per assault for districts over 1,500 people.
|Number of people per|
The average for Riga as a whole was 751 people per recorded assault. I had to put a default in for the last two districts, as there were no recorded assaults there last year. A lot of this was no big surprise. Maskavas forštate and Avotu Iela are near the top. Vecpilsēta (the Old Town) is in first place, which I expected. It has the highest concentration of bars and clubs and where you get those, you get drunks fighting each other. The police presence there is also higher, something which affects all these figures.
For Maskavas, Maskavas Iela itself, the place which people say is the dodgiest, actually isn’t any worse than the rest of Riga. The real dodgy bits there are around the Central Market and Train station (37 assaults out of 100) and the area around the parks between Katolu Iela and Daugavpils Iela (31 assaults.)
Overall, there were a couple of surprises though. Despite its reputation, Bolderāja is actually pretty low on the list, below places like Agenskalns, Teika and so on, which people consider “safe.” Its neighbour, Daugavgriva, is the safest Riga district of the lot according to the stats.
On the other hand, one dodgy zone, which people never mention, seems to be the southern part of Pārdaugava, Riga’s left bank. Tornakalns has a higher rate of assaults than Maskavas or Avotu. Other “across the river” districts also rank highly. Šampēteris and Pleskodale are not much safer than Avotu Iela, while Bišumuiža, Ziepniekkalns and Āgenskalns are all in the top 10.
For the second table
These figures are less reliable, due to the districts’ small size and the fact that, in most of them, there were no crimes or hardly any. However Rumbula and Atgāzene (another Pārdaugava district) rank highly.
For murders, last year there were 16 in Riga. 3 in Purvciems, 2 in Avotu, Grīziņkalns and Ziepniekkalns, 1 in Teika, Centrs, Iļģuciems, Jugla, Imanta, Atgāzene and Mūkupurvs. This is too small to get any overall picture, so I widened the criteria to cover the four years 2010-2013.
The usual suspects top the list. Again, Bolderāja is absent.
So, there you have it. The dodgiest districts according to the figures are Avotu Iela and Maskavas, especially around the Central market and the totally inappropriately named Klusais dārzs (Quiet garden.) The city planners must have had good foresight, since they put the Quiet garden near a graveyard!
The safer districts are generally in the north east of Riga. Just my luck to live in Maskavas then.