I would never punt in Hackney. I had a punt in Bermondsey and would never go back there. Was followed by two youths, then asked if I wanted to buy weed from another. To compare Knightsbridge to somewhere like Neasdon is naive imo. Coming from someone who grew up on estates of West London (Grove)
I suppose you could get mugged in Knightsbridge if you were particularly unlucky, but obviously some areas are more dodgy than others.
I have walked around London in the dark many times and never really felt unsafe. Although I hasten to add this would be mainly Central London and tourist areas rather than dodgy estates. Furthermore this was something I was more likely to do in the past as I no longer punt late at night anymore (or anytime these days!) but would rather go for a drink.
One incident that does stand out was when I was going to see Amy in Paddington once. It wasn't late - about 7 - and I have never had any problems in Paddington before or since, but it was dark and I was walking down one of the deserted side streets when I was approached by a black guy (some would say colour irrelevant, but that was what he was) who said, 'Excuse me, but can you tell me the way to -' I immediately interrupted as firmly as possible, 'I hope you're not after money!' And he immediately fucked off. There was no way he was a lost tourist in that area. He was trying to engage me in conversation before either mugging me or more likely trying to come on with some old sob story.
More recently after dark again on a quiet street in Notting Hill another black guy stopped me and asked me where some church was. I think this one was legit (he just looked religious!
), but I replied, 'I'm not interested in churches mate, I'm going to the pub!' That fucked him