The credit crunch crimewave: Increase in burglary and robbery is fuelled by economic downturn

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:22 PM on 17th January 2009

The economic crisis is fuelling crime, new figures have showed.

31 police forces across England and Wales reported a dramatic rise in burglaries and robberies during the last four months of 2008.

5,572 more cases of acquisitive crime took place during those months than the same period the previous year. Some areas saw cases almost double according to official figures which emerged today.

BURGLARY

The economic crisis is fuelling a crimewave across the country, according to official figures which emerged today

The figures, which were obtained by The Independent newspaper, are the first evidence that the economic downturn is fuelling crime.

Opposition politicians have been quick to criticise the Government since the figures emerged.

Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said: ‘These figures are alarming. We already know, from leaked government memos between the Home Office and the Prime Minister, that ministers feared a rise in acquisitive crime due to Gordon Brown’s recession. These figures appear to be bearing this out.

 

‘At a time of economic crisis, with hundreds of thousands fearing losing their jobs, an increased threat of theft and robbery is the last thing people need.’

Liberal Democrat crime spokesman Chris Huhne said: ‘Ministers were all too keen to take the credit for falling crime in the good years, but they must now explain what they will do now crime is on the rise.’

Some of the most significant increases in crime were in the south of England, while northern forces Cheshire, Cleveland and Humberside were of the few to report a drop in the crimes, as did The Metropolitan Police, the country’s largest force.

Lincolnshire police reported the biggest rise in crime, a 97 per cent increase in robberies between September and November.

Greater Manchester police saw a 21 per cent rise, Newcastle a 40 percent rise,and Suffolk police a 53 per cent rise in robbery and burglary year-on-year.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith warned last year that crime was likely to increase during the credit crisis. A leaked memo intended for Gordon Brown read: ‘Our modelling indicates that an economic downturn would place significant upward pressure on acquisitive crime and therefore overall crime figures.’

Both Northumbria and Greater Manchester police forces have already taken action in response to the rise in crime.

Chief Constable of Northumbria police, Mike Craik, said: ‘It would be foolish indeed not to anticipate that the credit crunch would impact on crime and, in particular, acquisitive crime. This is exactly why we moved our focus from youth disorder to crime reduction back in November, with due regard to economic events as they were unfolding.’

In turn, a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police, told how the force had launched Operation Guardian in response to the rise in burglary. He said: ‘In the long term the amount of burglaries had decreased and is decreasing, but you do get blips.

‘We expect it to rise when the dark nights draw in and when Christmas is approaching, but the figures went up beyond what we would have expected last year and the credit crunch was definitely a factor.’

Nevertheless, some forces are maintaining that there is no link between the rise in crime and the economic crisis. A spokeswoman for Suffolk police, which saw a 53 per cent rise year-on-year, said: ‘At this stage there is nothing to suggest that this is down to the current economic climate.’

Richard Garside, director of Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, responded: ‘You don’t need to have a degree in criminology or psychology to work out that in times of economic hardship some may resort to forms of behaviour they might not resort to if they were not feeling under pressure and that may include some forms of acquisitive crime.’

The Home Office said it could not comment on the figures, which are published on the websites of individual police authorities.

A spokesman said: ‘The Home Office is much better prepared to counter the risks than it was in the 1970s or early 1990s and the department is confident that it has the right policies and systems in place to provide the flexibility needed to respond to future economic challenges.’

The department will publish a new set of quarterly crime figures on Thursday, covering the three months up to September 2008.

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