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England, Wales see major fall in crimes as pandemic forces more people to stay at home

London: Crimes like robberies and theft in England and Wales each fell by more than 40 % as more people stayed at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the British Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported Wednesday.

ONS said between April and June there were 47 % fewer robberies and a 43 % drop in thefts compared to the same period in 2019.

It reflected the increase in time people spent at their homes during the lockdown period along with a reduction in opportunities for theft in public spaces and the closure of night-time economies, added the official statistics agency.

Offences involving knives or sharp instruments and firearms also saw reductions, with decreases of 21 % and 23 % respectively in April to June 2020, compared with April to June 2019.

ONS said during the 12-month period to year ending June 2020, there were approximately 11.5 million offences.

During the year-long review period police recorded crime decreased by four % to approximately 5.8 million offences.

There were falls in offences involving firearms and knives or sharp instruments, both driven by substantial decreases in the April to June 2020 period.

One exception in the crime survey was trends in drug offences, where levels rose by 30 % in April to June 2020 compared with April to June 2019. This reflected increased police activity in pursuing these crimes, said ONS.

“Other findings indicated that public perceptions of the police during this time were largely positive, with 9 in 10 adults satisfied with the way local police were responding to the pandemic,” added ONS.

Billy Gazard from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice said, “Decreases in crime levels during the year ending June 2020 were mainly driven by changes in society after coronavirus-lockdown restrictions were put in place.”

“The most substantial reductions were seen in theft and robbery offences during the April to June quarter,” he said. “There are indications that crime levels in June were moving back towards pre-lockdown levels.”

“Police recording of drug offences increased sharply throughout the April to June period, reflecting proactive police activity as overall crime levels reduced,” he said. “Anti-social behaviour incidents also increased. These include reported breaches of lockdown restrictions to the police.”

The crime data came as another 24,701 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 942,275, according to official figures released Wednesday.

To bring life back to normal, countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

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