West Country police record sharp downturn in crime during COVID-19 lockdown

Police forces are recording a sharp downturn in crime rates in the COVID-19 lockdown.

Devon and Cornwall says crimes including shoplifting and burglaries from homes have halved in the last few weeks while Avon and Somerset says overall crime has reduced by 38 per cent.

While a degree of caution is needed analysing the figures - the figures are based on just a two-week period from March 16th, comparing 2020 with 2019 - they offer a stark guide as to the changing face of crime in lockdown Britain.

Avon and Somerset recorded a 38 per cent decrease in overall crime.

There was also a decrease in many specific types of crime:

-27%

Burglary

-17%

Residential burglary

-43%

Vehicle crime

-26%

Violent crime

-52%

Theft

-46%

Sexual offences

-38%

Hate crimes

Devon and Cornwall is seeing a similar cut - including reduced rates for shoplifting (50%), dwelling burglary (50%) and a 28% cut in violence.

At the moment it appears crime is down which has got to be a good thing. If there’s anything good that can come out of this, it’s that crime is currently down.

PC Dan Williams, Avon & Somerset Police’s Beat Manager in Wells

PC Williams says he is using the time to strengthen bonds between the police and the community, riding his bike in the city to provide a visible, reassuring presence.

Credit: PC Williams

Police say the constant rate of Domestic Violence may be a result of poor reporting as many victims may be unable to call for help as they are with their abusers during lockdown.

Internationally we’ve seen an increase in domestic violence. For us as a force we’ve not seen that increase play through. We’re not complacent in that.

Chief Insp Tony Blatchford, Avon & Somerset Police
Chief Insp Tony Blatchford, Avon & Somerset Police Credit: ITV West Country

Chief Inspector Blatchford adds: “What we do appreciate is, particularly in cases of domestic violence in the home, we’ve got the victim and the perpetrator living together. The victim may not feel safe to come forwards. What we would say to those people is that we’re working with victim support agencies and we’re still here for you. If you’re unable to make a call, then there are other ways to report this. Perhaps text a friend or use the online reporting system.”