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Crime and coronavirus: Social distancing, lockdown, and the mobility elasticity of crime

Halford, E; Dixon, A; Farrell, G; Malleson, N; Tilley, N; (2020) Crime and coronavirus: Social distancing, lockdown, and the mobility elasticity of crime. Crime Science , 9 (1) , Article 11. 10.1186/s40163-020-00121-w. Green open access

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Abstract

Governments around the world restricted movement of people, using social distancing and lockdowns, to help stem the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We examine crime effects for one UK police force area in comparison to 5-year averages. There is variation in the onset of change by crime type, some declining from the WHO 'global pandemic' announcement of 11 March, others later. By 1 week after the 23 March lockdown, all recorded crime had declined 41%, with variation: shoplifting (- 62%), theft (- 52%), domestic abuse (- 45%), theft from vehicle (- 43%), assault (- 36%), burglary dwelling (- 25%) and burglary non-dwelling (- 25%). We use Google Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports to calculate the mobility elasticity of crime for four crime types, finding shoplifting and other theft inelastic but responsive to reduced retail sector mobility (MEC = 0.84, 0.71 respectively), burglary dwelling elastic to increases in residential area mobility (- 1), with assault inelastic but responsive to reduced workplace mobility (0.56). We theorise that crime rate changes were primarily caused by those in mobility, suggesting a mobility theory of crime change in the pandemic. We identify implications for crime theory, policy and future research.

Type: Article
Title: Crime and coronavirus: Social distancing, lockdown, and the mobility elasticity of crime
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s40163-020-00121-w
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40163-020-00121-w
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Keywords: COVID-19 and crime, Mobility and crime, Movement and crime, Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, Mobility elasticity of crime, Mobility theory of crime
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107955
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