Crime falls by 28 per cent on lockdown

Crime falls by 28 per cent on lockdown as police reveal criminals are posing as key workers and targeting supermarket queues to sell drugs and 39 children were wrongly fined under new powers

  • Police in England and Wales reported 28 per cent drop in crime since lockdown 
  • Figure for four weeks to April 12 was compared to data from the period last year 
  • Officers noted a 37 per cent drop in burglaries and 54 per cent fall in shoplifting 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Crime has fallen by more than a quarter in the first four weeks of the UK’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown, new data has revealed. 

Police forces across England and Wales have reported a 28 per cent drop in crime since the drastic measures were announced last month, with the majority of Britons following advice to stay at home.

But the National Police Chiefs’ Council said criminals are now posing as key workers and targeting supermarket queues in order to sell drugs, with supplies of illegal substances believed to be falling amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Police also said mistakes had been made in enforcing new powers introduced in March, with 39 children wrongly fined for flouting lockdown measures, the Guardian reported. 

A Metropolitan Police officer approaches a sunbather outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help slow the spread of the coronavirus

Emergency laws do not allow police to fine those under the age of 18. 

The fall in crime, reported in the four weeks to April 12, includes a 37 per cent drop in burglaries, a 27 per cent fall in serious assaults and personal robberies, a 37 per cent drop in rape cases and a 34 per cent fall in vehicle crime.

There has also been a 54 per cent drop in shoplifting compared to figures collected by the NPCC for the same period last year. 

The Council went on to reveal calls to 999 are down by 14 per cent, with a 13 per cent drop in calls to 101 as those across England and Wales move to report crime online. 

Forces have, however, seen a three per cent increase in the number of reported domestic violence cases as people are asked to stay at home.

Pictured: Shoppers queue to enter a Sainsbury’s supermarket in west London on March 20

Police officers on horses speak to people walking on Primrose Hill, London on Tuesday

There has also been a 59 per cent rise in antisocial behaviour reports.

Some 3,203 fines were issued in England between March 27 and April 13 for breaches of these government public health regulations, which equates to less than 0.01 per cent of the eligible population.

A third of these fines were given to those aged 18 to 24, with a further third going to people between the ages of 25 and 34. Around 82 per cent of fines were given to men.

Deputy chief constable Sara Glen, from the NPCC, said it was clear younger people were struggling the most with the nationwide lockdown, which has been in place since March 23.

‘If we have good weather people naturally want to be outside,’ she said.

‘So, this is something which is a real challenge to us with our demographics in counties where they’ve got a younger population who want to party, who want to have barbecues, who want to be outside, when it’s good weather.’ 

This was apparent over the Easter weekend, when sunbathers were pictured lounging in London’s Victoria Park, Battersea Park and Beachy Head in East Sussex.  

Police forces across England and Wales have reported a 28 per cent drop in crime since the government lockdown was enforced last month 

National Police Chiefs’ Council said criminals are posing as key workers and targeting supermarket queues in order to sell drugs

In Torquay, a family was caught by Devon and Cornwall Police and fined for driving nearly 200 miles to go fishing, despite travel restrictions in place due to coronavirus.

A total of 424 fines were issued last Saturday, with police forces in tourist destinations handing them out more frequently than others.

Lynne Owns, the director general of the National Crime Agency, added that drug dealers were posing as key workers and targeting supermarket car parks in order to push illegal substances.  

‘They are having to find new ways of working and new networks,’ she said. ‘Drug dealers moving illicit drugs are concerned about greater scrutiny as they recognise that with fewer people on the streets, they are more visible.

‘Of course, they will be looking at different opportunities, wearing hi-vis clothing so they start to look like key workers, deploying or dealing from supermarket car parks where there may be more people around.’

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt added: ‘The service across the UK currently has an overall absence rate of ten per cent, covering both officers and staff, and not simply relating to Covid-19. 

‘With reductions in crime, policing is in a strong, resilient position due to the brilliant commitment of officers and staff and the extra hours of our police volunteers.

‘Our message to the public is keep reporting crime to us – we are still here for you and our teams are working round clock to keep you safe.

‘To those in danger or at risk, my message is we will come when you call for help.’

On the enforcement on new public health regulations, he added: ‘The vast majority of people are staying at home in order to protect the NHS and help save lives. 

‘However, we have seen a small minority of people who, despite our best efforts, have refused to follow the instructions and officers have needed to use their enforcement powers.

‘I want to thank everyone who is being responsible and following the regulations.

‘Provisional data on the number of fines issued by police forces shows proportionate policing of these new regulations. Police have interacted with the public in their tens of thousands, with most engagements ending positively and with no need for a fine.

‘Our approach our approach of – engage, explain and encourage, and only as a last resort, enforce – is working and will continue.’ 

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