Recorded crime levels drop by 25% in England and Wales due to coronavirus

21 May 2020, 12:00

Recorded crime has dropped by 25% in England and Wales
Recorded crime has dropped by 25% in England and Wales. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Recorded crime in England and Wales dropped by 25 per cent in the four weeks to May 10, according to new figures released by police chiefs today.

The coronavirus crisis has led to a drop in recorded crime, by as much as 25 per cent in some areas which police have attributed to the lockdown.

The stats from the National Police Chiefs' Council show that crime recorded by police from all 43 police forces in England and Wales has dropped by a quarter in the four weeks to May 10, compared to the same period in 2019.

The numbers do not include fraud, which is recorded by centrally by Action Fraud.

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Forces recorded fewer cases of residential burglary, vehicle crime (including theft of and from a vehicle), assaults (including both Grievous Bodily Harm and Actual Bodily Harm) and robbery committed against individuals, rape and shoplifting.

Forces have also said there were fewer calls to 999 and 101, and have also seen falls in the number of cases brought to police relating to mental health and missing persons.

However, there has been a four per cent rise in reports of domestic abuse incidents.

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Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hil QC told the Commons Justice Committee that criminal cases involving 424 defendants charged with Covid-related offences had been concluded during the month of April.

The top legal officer said the defendants faced 660 charged offences, 142 offences of criminal damage, 99 public order offences, 62 common assaults, and 44 cases of shoplifting.

The figures refer to England and Wales only.

Mr Hill said that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was "starting to see" an increase in domestic abuse cases.

But he said reports of a surge in calls to the England-wide domestic abuse helpline did not necessarily mean an increase in reports of crimes taking place.

He said: "Those callers were very sensibly either checking on their own account, or on behalf of relatives, 'what do we do if things get worse?' Calling a helpline is not the same as a report of crime.

"There are certain types of crime happening less frequently because of lockdown but there are indications that there are some areas where we are going to have to maintain our focus and vigilance, and domestic abuse is right up there."

Police have also seen an increase in assaults on emergency workers with 14 per cent more offences being recorded against officials while at work.

CPS figures show that in April there were 313 Covid-19 related assaults on emergency workers.

The NPCC said the growth was "largely due to increases in assaults without injury, which may be driven by scenarios such as common assault on staff."

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The National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Crime Operations, Chief Constable Andy Cooke said:

“These figures are not a surprise, as the public have largely stayed home during the lockdown period. Forces use any spare capacity they have during lockdown to focus on proactively pursuing criminals, completing complex investigations and reducing violence.

“As measures ease, we will bear down crime and do all we can to try and prevent it rising to pre-lockdown highs. We are confident in our resilience, and we will work closely with partners across law enforcement and the criminal justice system to meet challenges that arise as we move through the stages of the national response to Covid19.”

The chairman of the NPCC Martin Hewitt said: “Policing remains in a strong position and we are not wasting any of the extra capacity this crisis has brought.

“Forces have been able to do more proactive policing and reduce backlogs in complex investigations, which will lead to justice being done for many victims, removing criminals from communities and getting ahead of crime before it happens.”