The UK has seen a “substantial and sustained” fall in violent crime over the last decade, according to a report.

The murder rate has halved since 2003, from 1.99 per 100,000 people to one per 100,000 with the violent crime rate falling from 1,255 to 933 per 100,000 people, according to a new “peace index”.

Broadland, in Norfolk, was the most peaceful area at local authority level, followed by Three Rivers in Hertfordshire, South Cambridgeshire, East Dorset and Maldon in Essex.

Inner London boroughs were the least peaceful – headed by Lewisham and followed by Lambeth, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

The most peaceful region in the UK was South East England and the least peaceful Greater London followed by Scotland and Northern Ireland. The least peaceful major urban centre in the UK was Glasgow, followed by London and then Belfast.

The findings were published in the UK Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which defines peace as the absence of violence or fear of violence.

“Both crime and homicide have fallen significantly,” the report said. “The fall over the last decade has resulted in the UK homicide rate now being roughly equivalent to that of the Western European average, and it is now at its lowest level since 1978.

“However, the UK violent crime rate is significantly higher than the European Union average.”

Despite the global financial crisis, violence has continued to fall in both the UK and Europe even during the recession, the report said. In the UK, the only major offence category to substantially increase over the last decade was drug offences, it found.

All other categories of crime, including burglary and fraud, have fallen. But it said public perceptions of the threat of violence are inflated, with 17% of Britons thinking they will be a victim of violent crime, while less than 4% will actually experience violent crime.