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Environment / Climate change

Crime in London is at a record low while reports of anti-social behaviour surge

London is seeing its lowest level of crime for at least the last four years as lockdown creates fewer opportunities for burglars, thieves and muggers.

New figures show April had the lowest total number of recorded offences since comparable monthly data was first published in May 2016.

Some of the drops have been huge. Theft from the person was down by 86% compared to April 2019, while robbery dropped by 70% and shoplifting by 54%. Fewer open shops  and fewer potential victims on the streets  have meant less opportunity and therefore much less acquisitive crime.

Burglaries are down by 42%, which also stands to reason. If everyone is at home, burglary becomes far riskier.

Violent crimes with injury  crucially, not including domestic abuse  are down by 41%.

Just as significant are the crimes that have not dropped dramatically.

Reports of common assault fell by only 5% in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

The Metropolitan Police say that common assaults tend to occur when people are known to each other – including domestic assaults.

And though recorded crime is down, police are still being kept busy.

Calls reporting anti-social behaviour  which aren’t counted as crimes  have hit a record high.

There were 69,931 such calls in London in April, roughly one every 40 seconds.

That is three times more than the 21,724 recorded in April 2019, and a record high. 

Lockdown provides the most likely explanation: what counts as “anti-social behaviour” now, when most people are supposed to be at home or keeping a safe distance from others, is very different to pre-epidemic days.

When we look at individual boroughs we find Tower Hamlets had the most “excess” anti-social behaviour calls (2,603) compared to the level we’d expect in an average April.

That was followed by Hackney (2,452), Newham (2,412) and Haringey (2,366).

–Michael Goodier
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