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Crime after lockdown

How might crime go after lockdown as restrictions are eased? Might crime bounce back quickly to pre-pandemic levels; or even bounce back to rates higher than before the pandemic, as offenders make up for lost crime and lost time?!

This is discussed in a paper by Prof Graham Farrell and Dr Dan Birks, of the University of Leeds, part of other briefings gathered by the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science at University College London (UCL).

Restrictions on people’s movements have caused dramatic changes in crime opportunities, according to the Leeds criminologists. Many crime types from shoplifting to burglary have declined, while others including domestic violence and online crimes (from fraud to child sexual abuse) have increased. Perhaps the most obvious is the two-thirds declines in shoplifting when most shops have been closed, but stay-at-home orders have meant many homes have more guardianship which is linked to residential burglary reductions of around a quarter.

Covid-19 has not been all good for crime reduction. As for online, remote working and people taking to online leisure activities as people, including children home from school, have meant a move to more and more activities online. The virtual world effect is, broadly speaking, in the opposite direction to the physical world and has created new crime opportunities.

Among other topics covered in the UCL papers are terrorism; medical counterfeits; bio-assaults; package theft; fly-tipping; burglary; stalking; cybercrime against older people; and school bullying.

A paper on ‘self-selection policing’, the idea that serious criminals also carry out less serious crimes, mentions that during the pandemic lockdown serious and organised criminals have been more easily identified due to the large reduction in vehicles on the roads; or criminals raised suspicion by not wearing a mandatory face-covering while travelling on the London Underground. Those who deal drugs will need to continue to move around to distribute during lockdowns, even if a second wave of Covid-19 forces a renewed lockdown; and those with a disregard for the law at a high-level will be likely to break speed-limits in the space left by fewer vehicles being on the roads.

Visit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/jill-dando-institute/research/covid-19-special-papers.


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