The impact of the pandemic has been felt in every area of our lives, and it’s the same story when we look at crime rates. There has been a big shift in the types of offences committed so while there has been an overall 21% increase in crime in the West Midlands between 2020 and 2021, the types of crimes being committed have changed dramatically.
The impact of lockdown on the types of crime being committed is not to be underestimated. There has been a 1% drop in robberies and a 16% decrease in burglaries which can be explained by social distancing making it harder to pickpocket or mug people, and by lockdowns and working from home leaving fewer properties empty for burglars. A 4% drop in vehicle crime can also be linked to the fact that fewer people are commuting to work so cars are remaining safe on driveways our parked in front of the (occupied) house. With fewer opportunities for these crimes to be committed the drop is understandable.
Lockdowns have also contributed to a rise of 41% in reports of domestic abuse. Other factors to take into account to explain this increase are the uncertainty we have all faced over the public health situation, and increasing pressure on families experiencing a rise in the cost of living but no corresponding rise in wages. These factors increase the tension in already strained relationships which sadly often translates into more domestic abuse. The isolation that victims of this type of crime experience has been expounded by the social isolation that we have all experienced, and this makes it harder for victims to leave an abusive situation.
Reduced real-life social contact and the effect of social media echo chambers can also contribute to tension at home as people have fewer outlets for their frustration or anger. This insularity often causes people to commit hate crime, an area that has increased by 44%, much of which has been online. When people hide behind a keyboard and screen they feel able to say things they wouldn’t dare to say to someone’s face, and the consequences can feel very distant until the police come knocking or the perpetrator loses their job.
Sadly, it is very easy for an individual to commit hate speech online without immediate consequences, and they may even have their actions and views vindicated by others online with a similar mindset. Without people to challenge hateful statements, or for people to challenge someone about their behaviour this can often escalate into harassment and stalking; a rise of 99% has been seen in stalking crimes. With the high profile case of the MP David Amess a spotlight has been cast onto the problem, which, while not always ending in an injurious crime, is terrifying for the victims and causes long term mental health problems.
Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine said “We recognise that our biggest crime types are stalking and harassment, domestic abuse and rape and we are doing lots to tackle them”, and that last year was particularly very hard on relationships, however, the Police, together with many refuges and charities are there to help and support across the West Midlands.
We’re glad that crimes targeting the home, such as burglaries, are decreasing but the risk remains. To get your home security in the best shape give us a call and get an intruder alarm or home CCTV to ensure you’re not the target of burglars or vehicle thieves.