Most types of crime plummeted while coronavirus restrictions were in place during the national lockdown. Yet, violent crime in the UK has now soared to its highest level in a decade, with two-thirds of police forces in England and Wales seeing a rise in hate crime, drug rivalries and domestic abuse.
But why is this happening?
A closer look
In June, officials warned that crime levels were moving back towards pre-lockdown levels. Within a month, violent crime across England and Wales had jumped from 147,857 to 163,624 incidents (a rise of 15.8 per cent).
Police figures also showed that July figures were higher than the previous year in 31 of 39 police forces who published their statistics — with Gloucestershire (39 per cent) and Durham (35 per cent) seeing the two highest increases of violent crime in the country.
By August, violent incidents had returned to pre-coronavirus levels, sparking fears that numbers could rise even further as lockdown measures are lifted.
Many are blaming rage and frustrations built up during confinement for the rise in violent crime. When restrictions were eased, there was a surge in violence outside licensed venues due to this release of pent-up fury — while charities warned that domestic abuse had become more violent, more intense and more frequent during the lockdown.
Yet there is far more to this than pent-up frustrations at being locked down.
Since the 2016 Brexit referendum, tensions in the UK have been bubbling away under the surface. Data from the Home Office shows that hate crimes in 2016/17 rose by 29 per cent compared to the previous year. This increase has been attributed primarily to the result of the Brexit vote — in much the same way xenophobic attacks on Asians and people of Asian descent at the start of the year were linked to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The pandemic has only added fuel to the fire and amplified the divisions within our society. Many have lost their lives whilst others have lost their livelihoods. People are bored and frustrated. They are angry yet scared. But perhaps most worryingly of all, they feel they have nothing left to lose — and that is a dangerous combination.
Now, these years of built-up tension are spilling over into violence.
Plus, while security efforts have been focused on the pandemic, security in other areas has been lacking, creating the perfect environment for organised crime to flourish. Drug rivalries, in particular, have become increasingly vicious as gangs fight to retain their turf after the first lockdown.
A multi-faceted approach
Police forces have had to adapt quickly to the unprecedented and rapidly evolving COVID crisis. To crack down on violent crime in London, the Metropolitan Police Service has set up specialist teams such as violence suppression units, a violent crime task force and roads and transport policing. This enhanced activity was born out of the pandemic and continues as part of the Met’s annual Autumn Nights campaign.
However, police funding has been decimated across the board in recent years, meaning resources are tight, and many forces are struggling under the pressures of the current situation.
A multi-faceted approach is, therefore, needed to tackle violent crime from all angles. There is a myriad of security tools and equipment available to government and commercial organisations — from small handheld devices to large, constructed screening systems. For example, the 2X Systems 2X-300 series is a flexible and cost-effective security scanning system which can be tailored to screen all types of vehicles, including small buses, in occupied or unoccupied modes.
Using these types of systems at borders and ports of entry would make the screening and identification of vehicles entering the UK, which could be carrying contraband such as drugs, more efficient. This would free up precious emergency services resources to tackle broader crime and safety issues.
Equally, walk-through metal detectors such as the 2X-833 could also be used to secure public buildings such as hospitals, churches or even libraries — as well as licensed premises.
If you have any security questions or would like to find out more about 2X Systems’ product range, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.