From Iceland — COVID Affected Criminal Behaviour - But Not The Statistics

COVID Affected Criminal Behaviour – But Not The Statistics

Published January 4, 2021

Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

It made national headlines when the police in Iceland asked criminals to take it easy at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, but it seems, surprisingly, that the police were wasting their breath.

According to the crime statistics for the dreadful year of 2020, not that much changed when it came to crimes in Reykjavík and the surrounding areas, according to Stundin. All in all, 9,400 criminal offences were registered at police in the capital area, which is similar to numbers in 2019.

This means that Icelanders broke the law 21 times a day the whole year. All in all, there were 77,000 incidents registered with the police over the whole year although only a portion of these ended up as criminal cases.

But one can find some interesting irregularities when breaking down those numbers. Stealing was similar to last year and 2019 but burglary into homes dropped by 10%. The reason for this is obviously the pandemic. Everybody was at home Zoom-ing away.

Also, COVID seems to have had a significant effect on car stealing, as the numbers dropped by 40% when it came to grand theft auto. COVID also had some unexpected opportunities for burglars, for breaking and entering a company spiked up by 14%.

Drug-related offences also dropped significantly, or by 30%, and there were only 1,000 drug incidents registered by the police in 2020, which dropped more than any offence this year. Not an obvious reason for this one, but it’s clear that drugs are harder to come by on an island where everything has to be smuggled in by ship or flight.

The police only investigated 10 cases related to breaking the gathering ban or quarantine, but well over 1,200 cases were reported to the police. Interestingly enough, 76% of the suspected in these 10 cases were male, and their average age was 38 years old.

The good news, though, is that sexual violence dropped by 29%. The bad news is that domestic violence spiked by 9%.

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