NEARLY one in four people feel unsafe in the city centre after dark.

The findings of the city’s annual residents’ survey come as The Argus reveals violent crime in the city centre has increased 16 per cent year-on-year.

Yesterday, Argus reporters in West Street found mixed opinions. University lecturer Jo Offer said: “It’s just fear isn’t it, I don’t know if that means you are unsafe.”

But builder Mark Doyle, 57, said: “I feel a bit vulnerable, definitely. I can look after myself because I’m an ex-professional boxer, but others might not.

“I wouldn’t feel safe if I had teenage sons that went into town.”

Every year Brighton and Hove City Council commissions a polling firm to interview 1,000 residents over the phone and the results, weighted for the city’s demographic mix, reveal nine in ten are satisfied with the city as a place to live.

But when asked whether they felt safe in the city centre after dark, only six in ten could say they felt “very safe” (18 per cent) or “fairly safe (42 per cent).

Eleven per cent said they felt neither safe nor unsafe, 14 per cent said fairly unsafe and eight per cent felt very unsafe.

Eight per cent of respondents said they did not know how they felt.

So in total almost a quarter – 22 per cent of respondents – said they felt either fairly or very unsafe after dark in the city centre.

The findings are largely in line with the tracker’s survey’s results in 2016. The national figure for “safe after dark” is around 80 per cent.

City residents’ responses were much less negative when asked whether they felt unsafe after dark “in their local area” with only 11 per cent saying they felt unsafe.

Analysis by The Argus of the Sussex Police crime map, for an area within a one mile radius of the Royal Pavilion, shows that while the city remains a low-crime area, violent crime has risen.

In the 12 months to September 2017, 4,110 violent and sexual offences were reported.

In the previous 12 months , the figure was 3,542.

Overall, crime has remained largely static with a four per cent rise from 17,599 reported crimes to 18,286.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “This is difficult to comment on as this is not a crime survey and we do not know the reasons as to why people have said they do not feel safe after dark in Brighton and Hove.”

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “Improving the quality of life for all of our residents is always our aim and our intention.”

Additional reporting by Alex Thornhill