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Crime stats for 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and related lockdown restrictions have resulted in fluctuations in the level of crime in England and Wales, for example, for police recorded crime, according to the official ONS (Office for National Statistics) in its statistics for the year ending December 2020.

Total offences decreased by 7pc between July to September 2020 and October to December 2020. For the figures in full visit the ONS website. The survey estimates some 12 million offences, including 4.5 million fraud offences, and 1.7 million computer misuse, experienced by adults aged 18 and over in the last 12 months to year ending December 2020. Another estimate is that 9.7 million adults were a victim of crime in the 12 months.

As for fear of crime, in October to December 2020, 24pc of adults perceived crime to have fallen in their local area, a decrease from 33pc between July and September 2020. A majority of adults interviewed (by phone instead of the pre=pandemic face to face), however, perceived crime in their local area to have stayed the same (60pc), since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

The police meanwhile recorded 5.6 million crimes in England and Wales in the 12-month to December 2020, an 8pc decrease from the previous year.

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Sophie Sanders from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice said: “Although a small proportion of these fluctuations will be the result of seasonal effects on crime trends, the majority can be attributed to the introduction and subsequent easing of national lockdown restrictions throughout the year.

“Most crime types have seen recorded offences fall year-on-year. The notable exceptions are drug offences, because of proactive police activity in crime hotspots during the first lockdown, while violence against the person also saw a small increase.”

Josh Gunnell, head of fraud and ID pre-sales at TransUnion in the UK, said that the ONS’ fraud statistics reinforced the extent to which cybercriminals have been using the digitalisation of society brought about by the pandemic to their advantage.

“UK Finance has reported a 68 per cent increase in remote banking fraud, whilst new data from Action Fraud confirms that incidents of online shopping and auction fraud have increased by 38pc. This comes in the same week that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) revealed they had taken down more scams in the last year than in the previous three years combined.

“We particularly urge businesses and consumers to watch out for phishing attempts. This illegal means of collecting private data by posing as legitimate businesses such as banks, utility companies or even apps like Zoom is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Phishing now accounts for 48pc of all fraud attempts, according to TransUnion’s own Consumer Pulse study.

“Also of concern is how criminals are hijacking the increase in vaccine-related communications to fraudulently harvest vast amounts of personal data. The NCSC announced this week that they had removed 43 fake NHS COVID-19 apps from unofficial app stores, underlining just how alert consumers will need to remain as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic. Hyper-vigilance will be required from businesses too, and for many it will be well worth investigating tech solutions that can help mitigate this growing risk.”


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