Crime patterns in recent years have been substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions on social contact.
Of all the data studied, those from the Crime Survey for England and Wales are based on nine months of data collection between October 2021 and June 2022. These figures show that total crime is down by 8% from 2020. According to these estimates, adults over the age of 16 experienced 9.4 million crimes, mainly due to a 19% decrease in robberies.
Fraud offences increased significantly during the pandemic and now everything suggests that they are slowly declining to levels below the COVID outbreak.
Police-recorded crime data give an idea of the lower volume but greater harm crimes that the survey does not cover or capture well. In this vein, police figures indicate a drop in robberies of 23%, firearms-related crimes of 10% and homicides of 5%. However, law enforcement figures indicate that it is still too early to tell whether the data represent a change in long-term trends.
Police-recorded sexual offences have increased by 21% compared to the year prior to the pandemic, as they decreased significantly during this period of restricted social contact. This increase to 196,889 crimes is the highest annual figure ever recorded in England and Wales. Of all crimes of a sexual nature recorded by the police, in the period up to June 2022, 36% (70,600) were rape crimes. This is an increase of more than 20% compared to 59,046 in March 2020. The rest of the sexual crimes increased to 126,289 offences.
In terms of homicides, there is a 5% decrease from 716 offences up to March 2020 to 679 in 2022. Of these 679 cases, 38% involved the use of a bladed weapon.
The 8% increase in knife or sharps crime is mainly due to three specific police areas: the Metropolitan, which has seen an increase from 10,605 to 11,232 offences; the West Midlands, from 3,299 cases to 4,958; and Greater Manchester, which has seen an increase from 3,297 to 3,563 offences. In line with these figures, police in England and Wales reported 9% more possession of bladed weapons, rising from 23,242 in March 2020 to 25,287 in June 2022. As specified, this may be caused by the increase in certain police actions to combat knife crime.
Regarding the use of firearms, the police recorded 5,976 crimes in the period up to June 2022. This represents a 10% decrease compared to the 2020 period.