Public Safety

Crime can cause long-lasting trauma to individuals and disruption to a community. This makes safety a top priority for most residents. Overall, Berks County is similar to Pennsylvania in terms of its crime and incarceration rates. Property crimes in particular are on the decline, and the county’s drug-related arrest rate is lower than the state rate. However, the county’s rate of protection from abuse orders – a potential indicator of domestic violence – is higher than at the state level.

In 2017, there were 2.6 violent crimes reported per 1,000 residents in Berks County – similar to Pennsylvania as a whole. These crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. The state’s violent crime rate dropped 23% from 2005 to 2017, similar to Berks County’s rate. 

There were 15 property crimes reported per 1,000 residents in Berks County in 2017, just below the state rate of 17. These offenses include arson, burglary, theft, fraud, embezzlement and vandalism. The county rate dropped significantly between 2012 and 2017, and decreased more than at the state level.

Incarceration removes an offender from a community, but it also can create hardships on families whose relative is imprisoned. After release, formerly incarcerated people often encounter challenges in obtaining employment. In 2016, there were 2.5 county jail inmates per 1,000 residents in Berks County. This rate was similar to Pennsylvania. The county’s incarceration rate fell from 2006 to 2011, but climbed again in 2012 before falling slightly in 2016.

Drug use, sale and other illegal drug-related activity can have immediate as well as long-term negative health, social and economic consequences for people and communities. In 2017, there were 4.8 drug abuse arrests per 1,000 residents in Berks County, similar to the statewide rate.

A protection from abuse order is a civil order from a court to safeguard victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. In 2017, there were 4.3 abuse protection orders issued per 1,000 residents in Berks County. This was 40% higher than the Pennsylvania rate, but it is impossible to say whether this is because there is more domestic violence in Berks County or because local policies lead courts to issue more orders here than in other parts of the state. Berks County’s rate has fluctuated year to year, while the statewide rate was essentially flat from 2005 to 2017.

Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Increasing
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population ratio Increasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Decreasing
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving County/Region for Work Increasing
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Quality Early Childhood Centers Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Decreasing
Student Performance on High School English Decreasing
Student Performance on High School Math Maintaining
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Decreasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Maintaining
Living Wage Maintaining
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Health Status Not Applicable
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Increasing
Students in K-6 Overweight or Obese Increasing
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Decreasing
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing