Pandemic measures drive down crime figures
The coronavirus pandemic caused big fall in the number of crimes recorded in Sunderland last year, according to official police records.
Northumbria Police recorded 28,862 offences in the area in the 12 months to December, according to the Office for National Statistics – a decrease of eight per cent on the previous year, when there were 31,505.
At 104 crimes per 1,000 people, that was far higher than the national rate which stood at 81.
Crimes recorded in Sunderland included:
*789 sexual offences, down four per cent.
*9,707 violent offences, a slight increase on the previous year
*4,877 incidents of criminal damage and arson, up one per cent.
*519 drug offences, down four per cent.
*215 possession of weapons, down six per cent.
*3,827 public order offences, down 16%.
*7,866 theft offences, down 21%.
Police recorded eight per cent fewer crimes nationally – around 5.6 million offences in the year to December.
The ONS said the fall in crime was mainly driven by a drop of 15% between April and June as the first lockdown restrictions were introduced.
While police-recorded crimes increased from July to September as restrictions were gradually eased, they fell again in the last three months of the year as lockdown measures were reimposed.
Sophie Sanders, of the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “There were fluctuations in the level of crime throughout 2020.
“The majority can be attributed to the introduction and subsequent easing of national lockdown restrictions throughout the year."
She added: “Most crime types have seen recorded offences fall year-on-year. The notable exceptions are drug offences, because of proactive police activity in crime hotspots during the first lockdown.”
Crest Advisory, a criminal justice consultancy, said it is not surprising that crime patterns were "hugely affected" by the unprecedented restrictions of the pandemic.
Danny Shaw, head of strategy and insight at the organisation, added: "The rise in drugs offences was principally due to greater police activity in tackling dealers and organised crime gangs, who were also easier to spot with fewer people out on the street.
"The increase in reports of domestic abuse may well be linked to lockdown, when people in abusive relationships were forced to spend long periods together."