Is Crime on the Rise as Lockdown Eases?

As lockdown eases, police fear a spike in violent crimes across the country. In particular, gang rivalries are escalating now, causing the police to predict a huge wave in violence once lockdown is over. Police arrested 70 criminals on the 14th May, who had used the “UK’s road network during lockdown.” This suggests that crime is already on the rise, and the country needs to be prepared for a wave of violence as many people become restless during lockdown.

It is not only gangs who are participating in crime; a week ago three vehicles belonging to NHS staff had their tyres slashed in Bedfordshire. This act of cruel violence shows the recklessness and indifferent views of some thoughtless people. To slash the tyres of anyone’s vehicle is spiteful and hurtful. To do it to NHS staff, who are already facing a huge amount of stress and pressure is completely vindictive and malicious.

In contrast, since lockdown began, crime rates across England and Wales have fallen overall by 25%. This is probably due to the strict regulations preventing people from leaving their homes as little as possible. However, fraud crimes have not adhered to this statistic – as criminal gangs are using this opportunity to exploit people online. A senior officer stated that these criminals are ‘callously seeking to exploit the Covid-19 crisis to defraud people’.

These platforms provide access for hate crime as well…Facebook has deleted 9.6 million hate speech posts across the first quarter of 2020.

In a world where social media, technology and the internet have become prominent features in most of our lives, it’s not a wonder that these platforms provide access for hate crime as well.  In a Home Affairs Select Committee session it was stated that Facebook has deleted 9.6 million hate speech posts across the first quarter of 2020. The hate crimes are specifically targeting those of Chinese ethnicity, as ignorance and hatred continues to spread surrounding the pandemic, which initially began in Wuhan, China. There have also been hate speech posts surrounding homophobia, sexism, and transphobia. This staggering statistic highlights the amount of hatred that is being spread around during a time when people are at their most vulnerable.

In relation to crimes that are committed by vigilantes, nearly 17,000 fines have been issued to people breaking the lockdown rules as of May 25th, suggesting that a minority of people have not been adhering to the restrictions. Perhaps now that the lockdown is easing, less rules will be broken as people are more content with being able to meet up with more people at a time.

Some criminals have utilised the COVID-19 crisis to their advantage

Furthermore, reports from police in Cornwall have stated that incidents such as burglary, theft and anti-social behaviour have become more prominent since lockdown started. This shows that some criminals have utilised the COVID-19 crisis to their advantage; but as crime rates have generally fallen, it hasn’t been a huge problem across all of Britain.

Overall, whilst some of the more physical crimes such as violence and theft have generally decreased over the lockdown, there is a clear rise of hate and fraud crimes across social media. There have also been notable exceptions to the crime-fall, such as the slashing of NHS staff’s tyres, and the burglary incidents in Cornwall.

The rise in hate speech across social media is particularly concerning, as in a time where everyone is facing hardship under the current pandemic, messages of love and kindness should be spread instead of unnecessary attacks on communities out of hatred and ignorance. There is an increasing use of civil disobedience throughout the country as the lockdown eases, with people breaking the social distancing rules and flocking to beaches during the warm season.

However, we will only know the full extent of the impact that this will have once the risk of corona has significantly decreased, and we come out of the other side of lockdown.

Jasmin Lemarie

Featured image courtesy of Rhammified via Flikr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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