COVID-19 Lockdown Linked to Lower Crime Rates
An international team of researchers recently reported that stay-at-home policies that were enforced to control the spread of the coronavirus are linked to a 37 percent average reduction in crime in a total of 27 cities, located across 23 countries. Thefts and robberies fell the most – by 46 percent – perhaps given that many people stayed at home instead of having to go to work. Homicides also reduced by 14 percent, the researchers reported.
Amy Nivette, a researcher from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and her colleagues wrote, “Our findings show that the stay-at-home policies were associated with a substantial drop in urban crime. On average, the overall reduction in crime levels across all included cities was around 37%.”
The researchers found that there were plenty of differences among cities. They wrote, “The cities represent a large variation of measures relating to stay-at-home restrictions. They range from mostly voluntary recommendations to avoid public space (for example, Malmö and Stockholm in Sweden) to a complete halt of all but the most essential activities, based on emergency legislation and enforced by substantial penalties for breaching the rules (for example, Lima in Peru).”
As expected, the research study noted that a lot varied from one city to another. For instance, burglaries fell by 84 percent in Lima but increased by 38 percent in San Francisco. Police in many U.S. cities also reported a substantial increase in violent crime during the pandemic. But, cities in the U.S. did not experience lockdowns similar to the ones imposed across Europe, Asia, and parts of South America. The researchers found that the strictness of the lockdown laws did not seem to correlate directly with the changes in crimes.