Crime will rise as lockdown eases

Dyfed Powys Police Federation secretary Roger Webb has warned the public not to be complacent after a huge reduction in recorded crime during the coronavirus lockdown.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that total crime, excluding fraud and computer crime, dropped by just under a third during April and May compared to a two-month average in the pre-lockdown period.

Roger welcomed the figures but warned that they’re likely to rise again as lockdown measures continue to be eased.

“Crime can have a long-lasting impact on victims so it’s pleasing to see the figures fall during the lockdown period,” said Roger. “And while our members worked tirelessly to protect the public, it was to be expected that crime would be down and we must not be complacent.

“We know that the lockdown measures of closing businesses and confining people largely to their homes took away, in many instances, the opportunity for crimes such as theft, burglary and shoplifting.

“The figures will inevitably rise again as we come out of lockdown. In order to ensure we have a long-term reduction in crime figures and continue to keep the public safe, we need sustained investment in policing and more officers in our communities and on our streets.”

Key findings of the ONS study were:

  • Underlying the reduction in crime were significant falls in theft offences, particularly domestic burglary and other theft of personal property
  • Police recorded crime levels during the lockdown period were much lower than respective months in 2019, with 25 per cent less crime in April 2020 and 20 per cent less crime in May 2020 
  • Reductions were seen across many types of crime, in particular, theft offences fell in April and May 2020 to almost half the level recorded in April and May 2019 
  • One exception related to trends in drug offences, where levels rose by 22 per cent in April 2020 and 44 per cent in May 2020 compared with April and May 2019. This reflects proactive police activity in pursuing these crimes during lockdown
  • Police recorded crime fell by 5 per cent in March 2020 compared with the previous month, followed by a larger 20 per cent decrease between March and April. In contrast, crime increased by 12 per cent from April to May, as the easing of lockdown restrictions began.

Ché Donald, the Federation’s national vice-chair, said: “We must not be lulled into a false sense of security, as the figures will inevitably rise again.

“The answer to this is that we still need more officers on the streets in order to drive crime down in the longer term and to keep the public safe. The much-promised Government uplift of police officers will assist with this, but it is yet to be felt by my colleagues and the public.”

He said he was highly encouraged by the finding that 91 per cent of adults who responded to the Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) were satisfied with their local police officers. 

Ché added: “We have all read the recent negative media perceptions of policing so this overwhelming vote of confidence from the public will be appreciated by our members.

“This reflects the amazing work done by policing during the pandemic and the respect in which they are clearly held by the majority of the public.”