Lockdown crime fall was expected

The chair of Gwent Police Federation says a 32 per cent drop in recorded crime during lockdown was to be expected.

But Maria Henry has warned figures will rise as restrictions continue to be eased.

One area to buck the trend was drug offences with proactive police activity resulting in levels recorded crime levels rising by 22 per cent in April 2020 and 44 per cent in May 2020 compared with April and May 2019.

Maria said: “Our members worked tirelessly during the lockdown and continue to do so. They were on the front-line of the response to the pandemic to keep our communities safe and to protect the NHS, and they continued to be proactive in targeting drug offenders and other criminality.

“Therefore, it’s pleasing to see a drop in recorded crime figures but it was to be expected. The opportunity for crimes such as shoplifting were taken away by the closure of businesses and retail premises and people were largely confined to their homes.

“However, as lockdown restrictions continue to be lifted, it’s likely that we’ll see an increase in crime. To ensure that we can achieve a sustained downward trend in crime figures, we need more consistent investment in policing.”

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 
  • 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.”