Just where is all this violence i keep reading about? Where do you all live? The UK is not that dangerous.
Inner-city areas in any major city, or at least in the five major UK cities I've lived in.
I lived in south London for many years, and violence, or the threat of it, was a daily thing. Our estate was known as a major drugs market (not helped by the good rail connections nearby), yellow signs asking for witnesses to stabbings/shootings were so frequent that most locals just became hardened to it. Other than that, hearing threats (or discussions) of "shankings" or people who got, or were going to get "capped" were a regular occurrence on the local buses. The local McDonalds, after the schools closed, was often like a war zone. A Maria was parked outside there almost permanently during school terms. I've been stabbed once myself during an attempted carjacking (managed to beat the **** off with my immobiliser though) threatened with a gun but escaped unharmed, but fortunately I never got mugged (someone tried once, though).
But, despite all this, I still liked the area I lived in, and didn't really want to move out - but our building got sold-off to "developers" and off we had to go. 98% of locals were fine, but it doesn't take many criminals who are strapped to cause havoc in a comparatively small area.
Many of my friends/acquaintances/colleagues weren't so lucky, though - but most of those were from small towns overseas, so maybe I'm lucky to be a bit more streetwise when it comes to UK ghettos.
Fortunately, I now live in an area which is rather better, and wonder how I put up with it all for so long :D
Dangerous? It's getting more and more dangerous due to the rise of the BNP and gun-related crime. Knives too. I know a Brummy guy who now lives in OZ. He said that he'd never go back permanently due to the violence that you can encounter.
I think you'll find that one of the reasons BNP support is rising is BECAUSE of the rise in violent crime - I'd say that over 90% of the attacks in the area described above were investigated by "Operation Trident" - if you don't know what they do, Google is your friend ;)
But I know Brum pretty well as well - and I'm not surprised that your Brummy guy left.