Coronavirus and crime

New Preprint: “Coronavirus and crime: Social distancing, lockdown and the mobility elasticity of crime”

Diagram showing the elasticities of crime and mobility data

We have just published a new paper (DOI 10.31235/ on the social sciences preprint archive SocArXiv. The paper examines the recent changes in crime rates that have come about as the UK entered lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some crimes increase or decrease following the change in mobility quite closely, others less so. The paper is available here:


Governments around the world restricted movement of people, using social distancing and lockdowns, to help stem the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We examine the effect of restricted mobility on crime for one UK police force area. One week after lockdown, all recorded crime had declined 41% with variation by type: shoplifting (-62%), theft (-52%), domestic abuse (-45%), theft from vehicle (-43%), assault (-36%), burglary dwelling (-25%) and burglary non-dwelling (-25%), compared to their expected rates. There were pre-lockdown spikes in shoplifting and assaults. We use area-specific Google Covid-19 Consumer Mobility Reports to calculate the mobility elasticity of crime for four crime types, finding shoplifting elastic to reduced grocery sector mobility (MEC > 2), burglary dwelling elastic to increases in residential area mobility (-1), with assault and theft from motor vehicle inelastic but still responsive to reduced movement under lockdown (0.48 and 0.69 respectively). We identify implications for theory, policy and future research.


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