Six Months In. Pandemic Crime Trends in England and Wales


Governments around the world have enforced strict guidelines on social interaction and mobility in an effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Evidence has begun to emerge which suggests that such dramatic changes in people’s routine activities have yielded similarly dramatic changes in criminal behavior. This study represents the first ‘look back’ on six months of the nationwide lockdown in England and Wales. Using open police-recorded crime trends, we provide a comparison between expected and observed crime rates for fourteen different offence categories between March and August, 2020. We find that most crime types experienced sharp, short-term declines during the first full month of lockdown. This was followed by a gradual resurgence as restrictions were relaxed. Major exceptions include antisocial behavior and drug crimes. Findings shed light on the opportunity structures for crime and the nuances of using police records to study crime during the pandemic.

Crime Science