Fragile Society with Rising Crime Rates

Crime rates and anti-social behaviours have increased in the UK since the world began fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. “Broken Society” is a term which was first coined by Tony Blair to show a vast number of social ills which are getting worse in England.

We Live in a Violent Society The crime rate in London rose by 11.7% from June to July following the holidays. According to Finder, 15,590 stabbings were reported in the city between 2019 and 2020. After the lifting of lockdown restrictions, crime rates in London have been rising. Among the crimes that have increased in London over the past few years, theft by 82% and sex crimes by 26% are astounding. Another crime which is very common in London is related to cold steel (knife crimes). Also, in just one month  since 2019, 1,481 offences involving firearms have been reported in London. It was also reported that firearms were used in London between 2019 and 2020. Crime figures in London show that from 2019 to 2020, there were 106.2 crimes per thousand people. The North Yorkshire Police Chief has predicted that violent crime and rape will increase by 52%  and 82% respectively by 2030. Earlier, British police chiefs had warned of a reduction in the security force’s ability to protect the community, citing the government’s decision to reduce their numbers. A lack of open policing of offenders, addiction and homelessness, are other factors that have exacerbated Britain’s internal security situation. According to the police report, all 43 active-duty UK police stations submitted their periodic declarations to the Police Performance Authority last summer, of which 12 out of 13 published declarations predicted that crime would increase in the country. An informed source told The Times newspaper that, in addition to the problem of rising crime, forms of crime are also changing. The Police Chief for Southwest England and Somerset has expressed concerns about the escalation of violent crime, and the head of the Hampshire district in Southern England has said that this poses a threat to public safety. At the same time, the Suffolk Police Chief in Southeast England has expressed concerns about the low capacity of the police to deal with offenders, especially traffickers, and Sussex Police Chief in Southern England has said that violent crime, stabbings, theft, rape and damage to public property are on the rise at an alarming rate. “The police have told the government without any ambiguity that children and vulnerable people will be at risk if they do not invest immediately,” said Shadow Deputy Foreign Minister Louise Hague. However, an Interior Ministry spokesman said police had the resources needed for important action. The latest report by the Office for National Statistics shows that crime is on the rise in England and Wales. The shooting death toll rose by 12% and stabbings by16% in the year to March 2018, the agency said. According to the report, the number of robberies increased by 30% and armed attacks by 2%. The report adds that British police have recorded a total of 5.5 million crimes during 2018, which is an increase of 11% as compared to a similar period last year. Of this number, 40,147 were related to stabbing offences, which has caused serious concerns for domestic security since the beginning of this year. The British police and fire services recently announced that tens of thousands of violent crimes had not been registered. The watchdog  reviewed police statistics from June to November last year and concluded that more than 9,400 crimes, or 18.8% of all crimes, were not recorded. The British police say that the mentioned crimes did not lead to casualties or injuries. The Sunday Times reported that the number of murders and stabbings in the British capital had surpassed that of New York for the first time in modern history. A study of stabbings and the use of cold steel in Britain shows that London is still the most dangerous city in England and Wales, but that the so-called “serious stabbings” are rapidly on the rise in other large cities, such as Manchester, Liverpool, and Blackpool in Lancashire.

Crime statistics in the capital are just “the tip of the iceberg”, said John Poyton, a spokesman for a human rights group; he added that all sections of society must work together to combat this scourge. In other major cities, crime is no better than in the capital. Since the beginning of this year, 269 stabbings have been reported in Birmingham, resulting in three homicides. David Jamieson, a crime officer in the West Midlands area of Birmingham, said the situation was a state of emergency. According to him, the teenagers who are involved in these crimes have been expelled from school and are on the way to committing more and bigger crimes. Jamieson has called on the Home Secretary to give more powers to police in the area to deal with the problem.

 The BBC has examined the statistics provided by 34 police stations on street stabbings and reached significant results. Statistics in Lancashire, for example, show that “serious stabbings” have doubled in the past five years. In other words, the statistics have risen from 455 crimes registered in 2014 to 981 in 2018. Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham are at the top of the list of the most dangerous areas in England and Wales. In Scotland, crime statistics are different from those in England and Wales, but a BBC report indicates that knife-carrying has also increased significantly in the region. According to statistics, 2,300 offences related to stabbings were reported last year. While stabbings have risen by 81% in the UK over the past five years, the number of court trials has dropped by 20%. Overall, crime, stabbings, murder, and theft  have risen sharply over the past three years, raising serious concerns about the country’s internal security. Although the British government claims that it has taken special measures to improve the security situation, experts say that these changes have not had the effect of preventing the increasing trend of crime in the country.

Fig1. Knife crimes at their highest recorded level in the past 10 years

In the year ending March 2020, there were around 46,000 (selected) offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales. Recent trends in offences have been affected by undercounting in the Greater Manchester Police Force area prior to 2018/19. In addition, due to ongoing problems, data from Greater Manchester Police is not available for the year 2019/20.  Excluding figures from Greater Manchester, this is the highest number of offences since the year ending March 2011, the earliest point at which comparable data is available. This increase is directly related to improvements in recording practices.

Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2019 to 2020, stated that communities have been torn apart by increasing crime and families have lost their children. He explained that 726 people were killed in Britain last year, 285 of whom were killed by cold steel. Also a former Home Secretary (2018-2019), he stated that this is the highest number of victims since conducting a census began in the UK. Javid said that this situation does not have a simple solution and must be confronted on several fronts.

Mr Javid described increasing police stations and strengthening police powers to use firearms as one of the most effective ways to tackle the problem. The former official also called for a bill to criminalise the carrying of knives and cold steel, and hoped for an increase in the police budget next year to increase police powers in identifying and dealing with offenders. Javid had previously asked for at least a doubling of police budget, while London Metropolitan Police Chief Cressida Dick had admitted in a radio interview that the increase in crime in the UK was closely linked to a reduction in police budget. She noted that the number of police officers had decreased while demand for security services had increased significantly across the country.

Domestic Violence

New research shows that the coronavirus crisis has led to a sharp rise in domestic violence against women in the UK. According to research, two-thirds of women in violent relationships have experienced more violence from their partner during lockdown. According to The Guardian, three-quarters of the victims of domestic violence said the rate of violence increased during the pandemic, making it more difficult for them to escape.

Statistics released by the British police show that the police are contacted once every 30 seconds for reports of domestic violence. Recorded calls include reports of violent crimes such as kidnappings, fires, revenge and even poisoning. Lockdown in different countries have contained the spread of Covid-19, but the restrictions have increased the risk of domestic violence, especially for women and children. It should be noted that domestic violence, in addition to psychological trauma, also entails traumatic physical injuries that sometimes lead to the victim’s death. For example, while two British women were killed by their husbands or partners each week prior to the pandemic, this number increased to 16 in the first three weeks of quarantine.

Domestic violence has been rising during quarantine in European and American countries, because the victims of this phenomenon have to spend time with the aggressors in a confined space that is mostly home.

Care Centres

According to The Independent, a survey has found that 70 care homes in the UK, or 43%, admitted patients with Covid-19 who were refused admission by hospitals between March and April. A nurse at a UK care home says there is a lot of pressure on care homes to admit people with the coronavirus. Another nurse said that those who are admitted are pressured not to take a diagnostic test. It has even been observed in some cases that patients in a serious condition are sent to these centres by ambulance from hospitals.

Staff at about a third of the centres said they had not received any PPE and had to provide it at their own expense. About four-fifths of nurses in care centres say they have no experience caring for the elderly inflicted with Covid-19. Fifty-six percent also said they had experienced physical and psychological hardships during this time. One of the researchers in the survey said that it is clear that care home nurses have faced major problems; many of these people feel that they are not being supported. “It is clear that the access of care homes to health facilities has been symbolic”, said another researcher.

A Wave of Homelessness

As evictions in Britain, which were banned for five months following the outbreak of the coronavirus, are going to resume, 21 members of the British Parliament called for more measures to protect people from the danger of homelessness. According to the Mirror website, representatives of several parties in Parliament warned that vulnerable people will face a new wave of homelessness after the end of the eviction ban.

Representatives of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Labour Party and the Democratic Union Party called on the government to provide financial assistance to individuals to prevent a wave of homelessness. The MPs called for legislation to allow homeless people to stay in a place  for 12 months. The MPs also called for the repeal of a law banning begging in public places.

Drug Abuse

The UK has the highest drug abuse rates among European countries, including drug-related deaths. The Drugs Report released by the British government for 2019 shows that adolescents over 15 years of age are more likely to use drugs. According to The Express, experts say that Britain is facing a severe crisis and needs immediate action. Last year, the rate of drug use in England and Wales was 9.4%, which is higher than the average for the last 10 years; the rate of drug use in Scotland has also risen from 9% to 12%. The drug-related death rate in the UK, including Wales and Scotland, was 76 deaths per million in 2017; that number is 229 deaths per million in Scotland. In Britain, statistics for 2018 also show that 38% of 15-year-olds have used drugs at least once, which is 8% more than in the previous 5 years. In Scotland, 21% of 15-year-olds have used drugs at least once; this rate was 18% in 2013. Britain also has the highest rates of opioid, crack and cocaine use.

In 2017, a population of 57,430 people in the UK began treatment for opioid use. This rate is equivalent to 35% of the total rate in the European Union. Of the 11,000 people in Europe who started treatment for crack cocaine, 65% came from the UK. “England, along with its neighbours Scotland and Wales, has become a hub for drug use in Europe, and we are in a real drug crisis,” said Ethan Alexander, director of the British Addiction Association. “The British government and health ministry must act quickly to address this crisis,” he said. According to him, the more drug use, especially among adolescents and young people, the more deaths we will see. Experts attribute the increase in drug use  to the influx of large quantities of drugs from South America, social media and criminal gangs. Drugs have not become scarce due to closures over the outbreak of the coronavirus. Instead, they are sent to people’s homes.

Final Word

Social analysts believe that the vote of the British people to leave the European Union has led to the rise of extremist currents and the spread of violence in this country. They also believe that the lack of a proper role model in the family, along with social and economic problems, is another challenge which has contributed to the atmosphere of insecurity and crime.

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