Recovery JSNA: Community Safety
This JSNA chapter examines the impact of the pandemic on levels of crime, court activity and prison health in Wiltshire.
Information in relation to domestic abuse is held in a separate JSNA chapter and can be accessed via the link below
Crimes Recorded by Wiltshire Police
Total Crimes Recorded by Wiltshire Police
Between December 2019 and June 2021 the number of crimes recorded by Wiltshire Police averaged 4,373 per month. Following a slight reduction in April 2020, overall recorded crime rose incrementally, reaching a peak of over 5,150 in July 2020. Levels subsequently declined until February 2021, from which point they have steadily risen.
Crimes Recorded by Wiltshire Police by Offence Grouping
Anti-social behaviour offences experienced substantial increases between February and April 2020 and again between June and August 2020. Levels of these offences subsequently declined until February 2021, gradually rising again thereafter.
Recorded levels of violent and sexual offences rose between April and July 2020. After a sustained decline from this point until February 2021, levels have since steadily increased.
Levels of recorded shoplifting have remained broadly consistent between December 2019 and June 2021.
Public order offences rose steadily between April to July 2020, gradually declining until February 2021. Since this time, they have maintained a steady increase.
Burglary, theft and criminal damage offences fell markedly between February and April 2020 as restrictions were imposed then subsequently increased until October 2020. After a period of decline between October 2020 and February 2021, levels of these offences have since increased incrementally.
Covid-19 Fixed Penalty Notices
Up until mid March 2021 Wiltshire Police had issued over 600 fixed penalty notices relating to infringements of COVID-19 restrictions. This is a rate of 88.6 per 100,000 population. In England, police forces have issued over 90,000 fixed penalty notices, equating to a rate of 160.4 per 100,000 population.
Criminal Court Court Backlog Statistics
The criminal justice system did not pause or stop because of Covid-19, indeed, it could not. Crimes continued to be committed, reported and investigated, detainees remained in the adult and youth secure estates and those under the care of youth offending and probation services remained so when national lockdown measures were introduced on 23rd March 2020.
Significant backlogs in crown court caseloads as a result of the pandemic and the delays associated with these (in terms of concluding investigations, scheduling court hearings and administering justice) may have detrimental effects on victims, witnesses and defendants alike.
The average number of days taken to conclude criminal cases in England and Wales had increased by 35 days at the end of June 2021 compared with June of the previous year
Covid-19 has presented the prison service with substantial challenges. The service has , and continues to respond to the pandemic against a backdrop of overcrowding and long-term under-investment in the prison estate. Self-harm and violence in prisons had reached record highs before the pandemic began, and the prison population tends to have poorer health than the general population, and thus a greater need for health care. This is a complex environment at the best of times and Covid-19 has exacerbated many existing problems.
On 24 March 2020, the prison service moved to an exceptional model of delivery, meaning that the estate was placed in lockdown with regimes restricted. This meant that prisoners were spending less time out of cells, visits and employment for non-essential reasons were suspended, education was also severely reduced amongst other restrictions on prison life.
Regime changes were a necessary initial step to save lives, and additional support has been provided to prisoners during this time, particularly the provision of phone handsets to ensure prisoners can maintain contact with families. There are concerns about the long term effects that these severe restrictions will have had on prisoners.