'Significant' drop in crime during coronavirus lockdown - but drug offences rise

August 26, 2020

Overall police recorded crime dropped during the coronavirus lockdown, but there was a rise in the number of drug offences.

Crime was 25% lower in April and 20% lower in May compared with the same period in 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It also fell 5% in March compared with February.

But records of drug offences rose by 22% in April (16,570) and 44% in May (20,687) compared with the same months last year (13,535 and 14,343).

The ONS said this was down to "proactive police activity in pursuing these crimes during lockdown".

The rises were driven largely by drugs possession offences, with "early indications" suggesting this was "particularly evident in London" where the Metropolitan Police had increased the number of drugs-related stop and searches it was carrying out.

Reports of theft fell in April and May to "almost half the level recorded" during those months in 2019.

Billy Gazard, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: "There was a significant fall in crime at the height of the coronavirus pandemic across England and Wales.

"This was driven by reductions in theft offences, particularly domestic burglary and theft of personal property.

"As this period coincided with the majority of people spending long periods at home during lockdown, it is not unexpected."

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The ONS said reports of crime rose as lockdown restrictions began to ease.

Its report gives the first official indication of some police-recorded crime figures since the COVID-19 outbreak saw restrictions enforced to try and limit the spread of the virus.

But the ONS findings are limited because of the difficulties in gathering statistics posed by the circumstances caused by coronavirus and because some figures are not yet available.

Police reports of domestic abuse are recorded quarterly, for instance, meaning official figures for this type of crime during lockdown are yet to be made public.

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