Pandemic lockdowns lead to fall in crime

The coronavirus pandemic sparked a fall in South Tyneside’s crime rate over the last year, official police records reveal.

The pandemic has caused a fall in crime rates in South Tyneside
The pandemic has caused a fall in crime rates in South Tyneside

Northumbria Police recorded 13,494 offences in the area in the 12 months to September, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That was a decrease of 14% compared to the previous year, when there were 15,735.

At 89 crimes per 1,000 people, that was higher than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 83.

Crimes recorded in South Tyneside included:

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*439 sexual offences, down six per cent.

*5,108 violent offences, down six per cent.

*2,133 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down nine per cent.

*322 drug offences, up 25%

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*101 firearms or knife possessions, down 29%

*1,886 public order offences, down 20%

*3,010 theft offences, down 29%

Nationally, police recorded six per cent fewer crime – around 5.7 million offences.

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The ONS said this was driven by substantial falls in the three months to June, particularly in theft offences.

Helen Ross, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “The coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown restrictions have resulted in fluctuations in the level of crime.

“The data showed decreases in crime at the start of the pandemic, with rises seen over the summer months, specifically in theft, following the easing of lockdown measures, with overall crime now back at pre-lockdown levels of January to March 2020.

“There were also fluctuations in police recorded crime, but total recorded offences for July to September 2020 were below that seen in the same period in 2019.”

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The ONS said an annual 3% drop in recorded knife crime nationally was largely down to a 22% decrease in April to June.

However, this was followed by a sharp increase in the three months to September.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s warned that offences could “erupt” once the latest lockdown is eased.

Chief executive Javed Khan said: “Children and young people have spent months out of school and away from their support networks, leaving many vulnerable to exploitation and control by criminal gangs.

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“With rising unemployment and poor job prospects, some young people are finding it hard to believe in a positive future, and see no alternative but to turn to dangerous ways of making money, carrying knives to protect themselves.”