3:15 PM April 5, 2022
A four-year low in reported homicides, robberies and rapes came as domestic abuse and hate crimes hit highs during the pandemic.
Freedom of information (FOI) data from the Met Police’s East Area – which covers Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge – over the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2021 provides a snapshot as to how the emergence of Covid-19 and the lockdowns may have impacted particular crime rates.
Total violent crimes, which include violence against the person, sexual offences and robbery, were highest in 2019/20, largely prior to the pandemic, with 22,312 instances recorded.
This compares against a low of 20,494 in 2017/18, and a second-highest figure of 21,607 for 2018/19.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 2020/21, in which the majority of lockdowns occurred, recorded the lowest rates of these crime types, such as robbery and burglary.
However, rates of domestic abuse, hate crime and violence against the person all peaked.
Domestic abuse increased from 8,218 the previous year to 8,723 for 2020/21, almost 1,500 more recorded instances than the 7,238 reported in 2017/18.
Hate crime also saw a sharp rise, jumping from a previous high of 1,384 in 2019/20 to 1,501 in 2020/21.
The FOI response did include a note which said there have been “localised changes” to the structure of the Met’s East Area, and so it is “difficult to attribute the performance of certain crime types to one portfolio”.
However, the data fits with the overall increase in hate crime incidents reported across London, which were up 10 per cent in the capital as a whole for 2020/21 when compared against the previous year.
Havering specifically was also named by the anti-facism group Hope Not Hate as one of 52 local authority areas where Covid had heightened the risk of far-right extremism.
The FOI data additionally shows how positive outcomes, which is defined as when the police take action against someone they believe to have committed the crime, were at 15pc for both domestic abuse crimes and hate crime.
While this represented a low for domestic abuse, with 2019/20 the only year recording a worse rate, it was high for hate crime, which previously recorded 12pc for 2017/18, and nine pc for both 2018/19 and 2019/20.
Instances of violence against the person, meanwhile, was recorded at 18,142, up from the 18,051 instances in 2019/20.
The East Area MPS was contacted for comment.