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Read more articles in: Blog, Criminal, Jonathan Hall

Knife crime, firearm offences and theft fall during coronavirus pandemic, ONS figures reveal

Criminal activity dropped by eight per cent in the 12 months to 2020, the latest figures have revealed.

The research, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), is the first to highlight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on crime in England and Wales.

According to the report, there were approximately 5.6 million criminal offences recorded by police in 2020, representing a fall of eight per cent compared to the previous year.

The ONS suggests that the slowdown was driven by falls during “periods of national lockdown” between April and June 2020 and July and September 2020, during which time considerably fewer theft offences were recorded.

The data also suggests an 11 per cent fall in firearm offences and a nine per cent fall in offences involving knives or sharp instruments – known as knife-enabled crime – over the same period.

Homicides also fell 12 per cent during the year, but drug-related crime grew by 15 per cent due to “proactive policy activity in crime hotspots”. In June last year, the Home Office revealed that increased enforcement activity had resulted in the closure of nearly 140 county deal lines, the seizure of cash and drugs worth a total of £3 million, and more than 100 weapon confiscations.

Violence against the person offences – which includes assault with injury, common assault, harassment and wounding/GBH – was the only other type of criminal offence to increase over the 12-month period (up two per cent).

Commenting on the figures, Sophie Sanders, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said there were “fluctuations in the level of crime” experienced in England and Wales throughout 2020.

“This is supported by findings from the Telephone-operated Crime Survey and police recorded crime data. 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.”

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