York & North Yorkshire

Ryedale among 'most neighbourly' places in England

Police talking to resident in Malton
Image caption There are 363 Neighbourhood Watch schemes in Ryedale

A rural part of North Yorkshire is one of the most socially cohesive places in England, research has suggested.

Of people questioned in the Ryedale district, which includes the towns of Pickering and Malton, 93.1% said neighbours looked out for each other.

The figure was higher only in Eden (93.6%), East Dorset (93.4%) and Hart (93.4%). It was lowest in the London borough of Tower Hamlets (70.8%).

The research was conducted for the BBC by public sector analysts at Experian.

Insp Tim Hutchinson, who leads Ryedale's neighbourhood policing team, said the area had a "small town, village approach to life" and people were "willing to help each other".

He said: "If I walk down the street where I live, in Pickering, you see people stopping and talking to each other all the time."

Insp Hutchinson, who has lived in the area since 1993, said there were 363 individual neighbourhood watch schemes within Ryedale's 575 square miles.

There are also country watch schemes, which see police working with members of the rural community, and school watch initiatives, which encourage people to look out for suspicious activity around school grounds.

The inspector said: "It's all about 'let's look after each other'. That makes people feel safer and cuts the opportunities for crime."

Mr Hutchinson said looking out for vulnerable or elderly neighbours helped to drive down fear of crime and doing simple tasks for them such as gritting a driveway, collecting shopping or just saying 'hello' "makes such a difference to social cohesion".

The researchers also looked at issues such as the number of over 50s in the UK who are in employment.

The Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire had one of the highest rates of people over 50 who were in work, after only Guildford and Oxford.

In Richmondshire 54.8% of the over 50 population was in employment, compared with an average of 38.1%.

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