Crime in the Era of COVID-19: Evidence from England
49 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2021 Last revised: 19 May 2022
Date Written: May 12, 2022
The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prescribed countermeasures of restrictions to mobility and social distancing are disrupting economic activity around the world. This applies to legal economic activity but also to criminal behavior and illegal activity. In this study, we investigate the effects of COVID-19-induced lockdowns on recorded crime in England. The enforcement of lockdowns at both the national and local levels allows unveiling the impact on criminal activities by type of shutdown policy. Using official crime data across the universe of local authorities, we find that national lockdowns are more effective in changing the shape of recorded criminal activity, with the first nationally-imposed lockdown having the strongest impact. Findings reveal that police operations play a prominent role in explaining changes in reported crimes. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that lockdowns reduced the economic costs of crime by £4 billion.
Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Crime, Lockdown, Police
JEL Classification: I18, K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation