Impact of Covid-19 on crime statistics has been ‘substantial’, police say – The Royal Gazette

Updated: Jul 27, 2022 07:56

Crime rates plummeted in 2020, partly due to public safety regulations introduced in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

Police have seen a sharp rise in anti-social crimes in 2020 due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest statistics.

But public safety rules introduced in the wake of the virus have also led to a decrease in other types of offences.

According to the figures contained in the Bermuda Police Department Official Statistical Report 2020917 crimes against the community were committed in 2020, about twice as many as in previous years.

Almost half of those offenses – 435 – were committed in the second quarter of the year after public safety restrictions such as curfews, bans on large groups and mandatory mask-wearing laws were introduced to control the spread of the virus.

There were 278 Covid-related offenses committed between April and June 2020, but only 14 in the third quarter and 23 in the last three months of the year.

The report notes: “There was a dramatic increase in recorded community crimes in the second quarter of 2020. The impact of Covid-19 on official 2020 statistics has been substantial, with legislation creating new offences.

“In the second quarter of 2020, antisocial behavior was the primary driver of crimes against the community due to Covid-related offences, and therefore a driver of all crimes.”

A total of 3,297 crimes were committed in 2020, down 50, or 1.5%, from the previous year, and the second lowest number in a year since comparable records began in 2000.

There was a drop in crimes against the person from 741 in 2019 to 639 in 2020.

The report states: “Year-on-year decreases were recorded in all categories except murder where nine offenses were recorded, compared to two in 2019.

“Decreases in all other categories may be due to the introduction of Covid-19 regulations, which minimized social gatherings and the possibility of suspects and victims being in close proximity.

“The fourth quarter of 2020 had a curfew and other Covid-19 regulations, so the ability of people to commit offenses was significantly reduced.”

Of the nine murders committed during the year, two were committed with a firearm. Ten other people were injured in shootings and there were 52 incidents involving firearms during the year – the highest figure since 2016.

There were 548 assaults during the year, including 34 serious assaults and 45 sexual assaults. This represents a decrease from 2019, when there were 629 total assaults, including 42 serious and 50 sexual.

Burglaries nearly halved from 40 in 2019 to 21 in 2020, and burglaries also fell from 475 to 416.

There were sobering statistics on the island’s roads, with seven deaths in road accidents. 544 other motorists were injured, 87 of them seriously. The year also saw 247 arrests for alleged driving under the influence.

The summer also brought a huge increase in the number of maritime traffic violations. There were 120 violations on the water between April and September, compared to just three for the same period in 2019, 28 in 2018, 50 in 2017 and 36 in 2016.

But arrests have also fallen significantly – from an annual average of just over 2,800 in the four years between 2016 and 2019, to just 2,138 in 2020. This figure was also the lowest number since recordings began in 2008.

More than half of those arrested – 1,165 suspects – were between 18 and 35 years old. Another 74 were under 18 while the oldest person was 86.