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CEP Covid-19 analysis

Covid-19 and changing crime trends in England and Wales

We document changing crime trends in England and Wales in the context of the current global pandemic. During the first lockdown that span from mid-March to mid-May 2020 there was a decrease in all crime categories except Anti-social Behaviour and Drug Offences. Since lockdown was lifted most crime categories remain at lower levels, although there are important differences across the country that correlate with economic performance. Using publicly available data, we study the spatial and temporal differences in the uptake of furlough and unemployment support schemes and their correlation to crime rates. We find that those parts of the country with traditionally higher number of claimants have higher levels of crime in some categories, including in violent crimes (controlling for month, year, and area characteristics). Areas which experienced a higher loss in employment (change) now show higher anti-social behaviour rates, much higher than the national average. We identify areas most at risk, which had high claimant rates pre-pandemic and which suffered a high increase. In these areas acquisitive crimes have decreased at a much slower rate than elsewhere. We show that the large increase in claimants was more likely to take place in LSOAs with lower educational attainment on average. The high risk areas are characterised by higher Black and Asian population, a higher proportion of lone parents and worse health.

Tom Kirchmaier and Carmen Villa-Llera

17 December 2020     Paper Number CEPCOVID-19-013

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This CEP Covid-19 analysis is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.