Violent crime in Riga

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
DISTRICT POPULATION ASSAULTS assault.
1 Vecpilsēta 1919 11 174.5
2 Torņakalns 6947 32 217.1
3 Maskavas forštate 27155 100 271.6
4 Avotu Iela 18561 64 290.0
5 Šampēteris 5172 17 304.2
6 Pleskodāle 5276 17 310.4
7 Bišumuiža 2354 7 336.3
8 Šķirotava 2497 6 416.2
9 Ziepniekkalns 33614 77 436.5
10 Āgenskalns 26841 60 447.4
11 Centrs 30728 64 480.1
12 Zolitūde 18648 33 565.1
13 Grīziņkalns 12816 21 610.3
14 Bieriņi 7966 12 663.8
15 Dreiliņi 5602 8 700.3
16 Pētersala-Andrejsala 5178 7 739.7
17 Purvciems 59273 74 801.0
18 Brekši 1631 2 815.5
19 Dārzciems 20968 23 911.7
20 Teika 28883 30 962.8
21 Sarkandaugava 18095 18 1005.3
22 Ķengarags 50366 49 1027.9
23 Vecmīlgrāvis 22667 22 1030.3
24 Mežaparks 4201 4 1050.3
25 Mežciems 15268 14 1090.6
26 Dārziņi 2316 2 1158.0
27 Pļavnieki 44750 37 1209.5
28 Mīlgrāvis 3754 3 1251.3
29 Čiekurkalns 7794 5 1558.8
30 Jugla 25094 15 1672.9
31 Bolderāja 12995 5 2599.0
32 Berģi 2898 1 2898.0
33 Brasa 13218 4 3304.5
34 Dzirciems 12079 3 4026.3
35 Iļģuciems 24020 5 4804.0
36 Zasulauks 6919 1 6919.0
37 Imanta 46640 5 9328.0
38 Jaunciems 2475 0.01 247500.0
39 Daugavgrīva 9015 0.01 901500.0

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

1 Salas 84 2 42.0
2 Katlakalns 141 3 47.0
3 Rumbula 1066 6 177.7
4 Mūkupurvs 203 1 203.0
5 Atgāzene 1247 4 311.8
6 Trīsciems 976 3 325.3
7 Bukulti 599 1 599.0
8 Skanste 798 1 798.0
9 Spilve 83 0.01 8300.0
10 Kleisti 217 0.01 21700.0
11 Buļļi 247 0.01 24700.0
12 Voleri 293 0.01 29300.0
13 Kundziņsala 399 0.01 39900.0
14 Beberbeķi 442 0.01 44200.0
15 Suži 479 0.01 47900.0
16 Ķīpsala 778 0.01 77800.0
17 Vecdaugava 1265 0.01 126500.0
18 Mangaļsala 1348 0.01 134800.0
19 Vecāķi 1382 0.01 138200.0

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.

DISTRICT POPULATION MURDERS
1 Maskavas forštate 27155 9
2 Avotu Iela 18561 6
3 Jugla 25094 6
4 Centrs 30728 6
5 Ziepniekkalns 33614 6
6 Iļģuciems 24020 5
7 Teika 28883 3
8 Ķengarags 50366 3
9 Purvciems 59273 3
10 Grīziņkalns 12816 2
11 Brasa 13218 2
12 Mežciems 15268 2
13 Āgenskalns 26841 2
14 Imanta 46640 2
15 Spilve 83 1
16 Mūkupurvs 203 1
17 Suži 479 1
18 Atgāzene 1247 1
19 Vecdaugava 1265 1
20 Šķirotava 2497 1
21 Mīlgrāvis 3754 1
22 Dreiliņi 5602 1
23 Čiekurkalns 7794 1
24 Bieriņi 7966 1
25 Dzirciems 12079 1
26 Dārzciems 20968 1
27 Vecmīlgrāvis 22667 1

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.

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6 thoughts on “Violent crime in Riga

  1. I’ve lived my childhood on Avotu street back in Soviet times, and even in Soviet times when crime, including violent, was way less, it was THE area for it. As I’ve moved on and lived for more than 5 years in each of Purvciems, Pļavnieki and now finally Maskavas forštate (practically next to Klusais dārzs, btw), based on my feelings, rather than actual statistics, I would definitely rank Pļavnieki to be the most dangerous of them. Simply due to the quantity of people packed in the Soviet “highrises” and drunken gangs of young men patrolling the area in the evenings.

    Regarding Klusais dārzs, my windows are overlooking “Miera dārzs”, which is right next to Klusais dārzs, and during day at least Miera dārzs is quite decent place with chiidren’s playground and mothers pushing prams. The underclass may sit on the crumbling parapets and drink their beer, but they are a quiet bunch.

    During night you will, especially during spring/early summer, have drunken companies wandering the area, but at least during the last 1-2 years the municipal police is making rounds right through both parks in their vans every other hour. Both parks are quite empty at night, so I am surprised the park is actually that high on the list..

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