Vauxhall, the Oval and Kennington

Living in Lambeth

After this introduction, following sections of this note look at local population statistics and at how to avoid being a victim of crime.

Vauxhall and Kennington lie at the heart of an amazing city. London was once the world's greatest sea port, with more physical connections with the rest of the globe than any other place on the planet. It is now the world's greatest international financial centre, with the world's busiest international airport. One quarter of London's senior and financial management comes from abroad, and nearly one-third of Londoners are from ethnic minorities.

Vauxhall and Kennington are therefore themselves amazingly vibrant. There are a huge number of different communities speaking 120 different languages. There are some very rich people, and some very poor. Most are law abiding, but a substantial minority just can't understand why anyone would want to obey all the silly laws that stop you having fun. Many people love the atmosphere, and some just tolerate it. But all agree that it is most unwise to get upset or angry every time someone does something annoying. You really do need to live and let live.

Lambeth councillor Jonathan Myerson published a perceptive description of the area in The Guardian in 2003. His ward "features street after street of £1m houses and £500,000 flats, yet 60% of [his] constituents live in social housing". Click here to read the full article.

Another perspective is provided by D.J.Enright's Poem on the Underground.

    Proud readers
    Hide behind tall newspapers.

    The young are all arms and legs
    Knackered by youth.

    Tourists sit bolt upright
    Trusting in nothing.

    Only the drunk and the crazy
    Aspire to converse.

    Only the poet
    Peruses his poem among the adverts.

    Only the elderly person
    Observes the request that the seat be offered to an elderly person.

Statistics

Upmystreet.com provides more detailed information and statistics. Its "ACORN" profiles are particularly interesting, providing endless fun when comparing areas. For instance, the author of this website lives in a road which, like much of the rest of Vauxhall and Kennington, is classified as as a "Gentrified Multi-Ethnic Area". These neighbourhoods are concentrated almost exclusively in London, particularly Inner London. People in this ACORN category are young, often single and cosmopolitan. Ethnically, these are very cosmopolitan areas with 5.6 times the national percentage of people from the Afro-Caribbean ethnic group and over twice the national proportion of people from Asian ethnic groups.

The dominant employment sector in these areas is services, with a high level of professionals (70% above average) and 3 times the national level of people with degrees. The proportion of people driving to work is about half the national average - the dominant mode of transportation to work is rail - or in or case the tube. These people are more likely than average to have a mainly vegetarian diet. They like to get off the beaten track when they go on holiday and they like to visit somewhere different each time. They are not really interested in new gadgets and they are not keen on DIY. They enjoy radio commercials. Car ownership is below average.

These areas have very few detached and semi detached houses. The most striking feature of the housing profile is the fact that 31% of homes are converted flats - this is almost 8 times higher than the national average. In terms of tenure, 21% of homes are privately rented (compared with 9% nationally). The majority of these are furnished.

These are highly affluent neighbourhoods - 3 times more people than average earn over £40,000 per annum. All the quality daily newspapers have high levels of readership in these areas. The Guardian, in particular, is read by 5.4 times more people here than it is on average. Readership levels of The Times and The Independent are both over 4 times higher than average.

The proportions of people taking holidays in general, long holidays and winter holidays are all above average. People here are twice as likely as average to holiday outside Britain and Europe. They are also much more likely than average to go to wine bars regularly and to eat out in the evenings. They are nearly 6 times more likely than average to go to Thai or Indonesian restaurants frequently, and are also much more likely than average to visit Greek, Turkish and Spanish restaurants often. A wide range of sports show above average popularity here: tennis, keep fit, skiing, water skiing and wind surfing. Dancing and ten-pin bowling are also very popular. These people are much more likely than average to go to cinemas, theatres and art galleries frequently.

Please note that the above is a generalised profile which is intended to apply to all similar areas in the UK, but it gives a useful feel for large parts of our area. Why not visit Upmystreet.com, enter your postcode and check out your profile?

Crime

Lambeth and its neighbouring areas have a very high crime rate. You really do need to follow some basic rules or you will certainly become a victim very quickly. Conversely, however, you can live very safely in Lambeth as long as you do follow the rules listed below which, although irksome at first, soon become second nature.

It is important to remember that much crime is driven by gang warfare. The South London Press will give give you twice-weekly updates on the latest results of teenage gang, and/or drug gang, warfare. One edition in August 2005 featured several pictures of youngsters from around Black Prince Lane in Kennington, one of whom, 15 year old Alex Mulumba, carried a silver shotgun. 10 months later, the same paper reported that Alex had been stabbed to death, and two others were serving six years between them for robbery. A local policeman commented that he thought that, if any of them reached the age of 30, then they would be doing well. Sadly, their parents often do not know what their children are up to, which is often dealing in drugs on behalf of older gangs who do not want to get caught with drugs on them. Equally, such crime does not impact on the vast majority in the community who steer well clear of gangs or anything that they sell.

Most other crime is driven by drug addicts, desperate to steal something to fund their next fix, or by the proximity of rich and poor. There is not much point in looking back to the good old days when you could leave your front door open. Those were also the days when no-one had much worth stealing. As Jasper Carrott joked:- "Who would risk 6 months inside for nicking a mangle!". Therefore, because most other local crime is essentially amateur in nature, it follows that Lambeth can be a fairly safe place to live, despite the statistics, as long as you remember the following rules.

Kennington Police (7326 1212) will certainly sympathise if you become a victim, but don't expect them to catch the criminal or get your property back.

If your front door does not already have a mortice lock, then get one fitted now! Local locksmiths are listed on this site's businesses page. And use the mortice lock all the time, even when you are in the house. But keep a spare key handy (out of site of the door) in case you have to open the door quickly, especially in case of fire.

  A number of local shops, pubs etc. display this sign. If you feel threatened in the street, dive into one of these premises and you will be protected and supported.