02/04/2021 at 5:22 AM #383832
Covid: Police pressure as pandemic changes ‘landscape of crime’
Unprecedented changes in lifestyle in the coronavirus pandemic led to an acceleration in shifts in criminal behaviour in Wales, a crime expert has said.
Levels of reported crime fell across Wales from October 2019-2020, including in the first few months of the pandemic.
But figures show reports of cyber crime, stalking and harassment spiked.
Professor Martin Innes said challenges were “unprecedented” in modern times.
The Cardiff University professor said while it was hard to predict the future, an increase in digital crime during the pandemic, teamed with the economic impact and increases in social tension mixed for a “worrying cocktail” for post-lockdown crime.
Police forces across Wales have repeatedly warned of being under immense pressure during the pandemic as they try to enforce Covid laws while dealing with serious and violent crime.
Recent figures, released by the Office of National Statistics, show 245,591 crimes were reported to Welsh police forces between October 2019 and September 2020, a 7% fall on the year before, although this does not include fraud figures.
The number of fraud offences increased by 8% to 14,845 during the same period.
While the number of burglaries (-18%), thefts (-22%) and shoplifting offences fell between September 2019-2020, stalking and harassment reports increased by 11% in Wales, with 36,770 reports.
Domestic abuse charities also reported marked increases in calls for help when schools returned in September after abuse was not reported during lockdown.
Prof Innes, director of the Crime and Security Research Institute at Cardiff University, said crime had been shifting for years, but lockdown had seemed to accelerated rates of personal and digital crime, as people were stuck at home and spending more time online.
Dyfed-Powys Police saw the largest increase in reports of stalking and harassment offences, with 5,229 reports a 34% increase compared to the year before.
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