Drug offences rise as pandemic lowers crime figures

The number of drug offences recorded in South Tyneside over the past year increased by nearly 50% – despite an overall fall in crime, new figures reveal.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:32 pm
Pandemic drives down crime figures

The Office of National Statistics data shows Northumbria Police recorded 12,740 offences in South Tyneside in the 12 months to March – the peak of the coronavirus pandemic – which was a decrease of 17% compared to the previous year, when there were 15,259.

At 84.4 crimes per 1,000 people, that was higher than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 77.6.

Crimes recorded in South Tyneside included:

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*389 sexual offences, down 21%.

*4,965 violent offences, a decrease of 11%.

*1,904 criminal damage and arson incidents, down 19%.

*399 drug offences, up 45%.

*115 for possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, down two per cent.

*1,785 public order offences, down 16%.

*2,687 thefts, down 30%.

*1,997 stalking and harassment offences, up five per cent.

Overall, police recorded 13% fewer crimes in England and Wales, with around 4.6 million offences in the year to March.

The ONS said the annual drop was helped by a "substantial" fall in crime during April last year, when the first lockdown restrictions were introduced.

In March this year, recorded crime was higher than the previous year as the phased exit from lockdown started.

Billy Gazard, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on patterns of crime.

"There were large decreases in domestic burglaries and theft from the person, as more people stayed at home and limited their social contact."

But the figures did show a 28% increase in stalking and harassment offences across England and Wales.

This was driven by an increase in cyber stalking cases during the pandemic, according to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust which says it had seen a rise in calls to its helpline since March last year.

Violet Alvarez, spokesperson from the trust, said: "We know that domestic abuse has risen drastically during the pandemic, and this is evident in the rise of ex-partner stalking cases that we have seen on the helpline."