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Hard crime reality revealed by official lockdown data

Low level crime fell 32% during the full COVID-19 lockdown according to the latest official data. The unique crime figures offer a glimpse of life without the night time economy and opportunity theft.

The reality of violent offending and organised crime in England and Wales has been analysed by the Office for National Statistics covering the height of the lockdown of April and May this year.

Forces are reporting that offending is beginning to return to pre-lockdown levels and the Home Office is already looking at how the unique moment in British society can be used to influence future policy direction along with the allocation of resources.

The ONS revealed a 32% reduction in total crime excluding fraud and computer misuse during April and May 2020 compared with a two-month average in the pre-lockdown period. Underlying this reduction were significant falls in theft offences, particularly domestic burglary and other theft of personal property.

Analysts concluded this was due to impact of the lockdown on serial low-level offenders. 

The reduction in normal activity also reduced the cover for drug dealing and organised crime. As a result, recorded drug crime  levels rose by 22% in April 2020 and 44% in May 2020 compared with April and May 2019.

Billy Gazard from the Office for National Statistics Centre for Crime and Justice said: “This reflects proactive police activity in pursuing these crimes during lockdown.”

The full ONS data excludes knife crime, firearms offences, fraud and computer misuse.

In detail, the drop in offending covered theft offences, particularly domestic burglary and other theft of personal property.

The ONS said: “This reflects the increase in time people spent at home during the lockdown period, a reduction in opportunities for theft in public spaces and the closure of the night-time economy.”

As predicted by police forces, the ONS confirmed there had been a rise in domestic violence and child abuse cases. Separate analysis of the findings will be released later in the year.

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