The UK's Top 5 Summer Crimes
We know there are seasonal effects on crime, but which crimes are particularly prevalent in the summer months? Find out what exactly you need to be vigilant about this summer based on 10 years of police data…
A study by researchers at JD Spicer Zeb has evaluated 10 years of police data to reveal the top 3 offence groups, as well as the top 5 crimes, that occur in the Q2 months. Q2 refers to the months July, August, and September (specifically July 1st to September 30th), otherwise known as the summer period.
The data was sourced from the Office for National Statistics ‘Police recorded crime open data tables’, which covers all crimes throughout England and Wales dating from 2012 up to March 2022.
More specifically, researchers evaluated the average number of occurrences of each listed offence, and compared this against the Q2 average. The difference between these figures gave JD Spicer Zeb an idea of which offences were more likely to be committed in the summer months than at other times of year.
The findings are split by offence group – the wider umbrella of crime e.g. sexual offences - and offence description – the more granular criminal activity under these specific umbrellas.
Below we have the top 3 offence groups, and then we have the top 5 more granular crimes, more likely to be committed during the summer (Q2) period than at any other time of the year:
Top 3 offences most likely to be committed in Summer
1. Violence against the person
There are 48 different offences within this group, varying from assault without injury to murder, making it the largest offence group by counts of offence.
The data shows that violence against a person is the crime most likely to be committed during the summer than at any other time of year. In fact, there has been an average of 107,175 more occurrences of violence against a person during the Q2 summer period than at any other time of year, across the whole 10-year period.
Over the past 5 years, ‘violence against a person’ offences have increased, and are typically above average in Q2 year on year. In 2020, this difference was especially high, with occurrences in Q2 differing from the average that year by around 50,000. In comparison, the difference between Q2 2021 and the average that year was over 13,000.
In 2021, the figure for ‘violence against a person’ overall was especially high – even higher than the years previously. In fact, there were 2,097,927 occurrences of this crime in 2021; over 300,000 greater than the previous year.
2. Theft offences
The ‘theft offences’ group also covers a large number of offences, with 39 different crimes listed. Theft ranges from burglary of a dwelling, to shoplifting, to pickpocketing, and occurrences of this crime average to almost 104,000 more during the summer than at other time of the year over 10 years.
Although theft is currently the second highest offence group to be committed during the summer than at other times of the year, figures slowed massively in 2021. In fact, there was an average of around 800 fewer occurrences of this crime during Q2 than the rest of the year in 2021, showing that theft offences were much lower than usual.
3. Public order offences
Public order offences consist of 8 different offences including public fear, alarm, or distress, and racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm, or distress. Interestingly, public order offences have remained one of the higher offence groups, consistently increasing over the past 5 years.
Over the 10-year period, there has been an average of over 81,000 more public order offences during the summer months than at any other time of year.
Public fear, alarm and distress also includes drunk and disorderly offences which typically occur more often in the summer period. This can be associated with better weather and lighter evenings, a catalyst for more inebriated situations to occur more casually throughout the country.
Top 5 crimes by offence description more likely to be committed in Summer
To give a better idea of the exact type of offences that mostly affect England and Wales in the summer, researchers looked at the more granular data available. The top offences found that are consistently above average in Q2 include:
1. Assault with injury
Figures from the past five years show the average number of assault with injury offences was 6% greater in Q2 than any other time of the year. In fact, across 2012 to 2021, there were, on average, over 62,000 more assault with injury offences during the summer period than any other time of the year.
This exceeded any other crime listed, ranking assault with injury as the number 1 crime more likely to be committed during the summer months.
Assault with injury is committed when a person intentionally or recklessly assaults another, thereby causing Actual Bodily Harm (ABH). It must be proved that the assault (which includes “battery”) caused the bodily harm. We can only assume that, with more people leaving their homes to enjoy socialising, especially in pub gardens, during the summer, drunk and disorderly behaviour may lead to more assault cases.
The maximum sentence for ABH is five years, though if there are racially charged motives, this can be increased to 7 years.
2. Public fear, alarm and distress
Public fear, alarm and distress is the second most widespread crime committed throughout England and Wales during the summer period compared to the rest of the year. Between 2012 and 2021, the number of occurrences of this offence during Q2 was over 59,000 accounts greater than the average throughout the rest of the year. This crime occurred 10% more often than at any other time of the year.
This could be for a number of reasons, including increased numbers of protests happening in the summer months, and drunk and disorderly outdoor behaviour that may typically be associated with summer.
Public fear, alarm and distress offences include displays, any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting. This crime specifically peaked during 2020, perhaps due to the amount of social unrest both politically and socially.
Changes to the Public Order Act 2023 also means that forms of protesting are being cracked down on more so than ever. It’s possible that the number of offences will increase in future, as protests may fall under ‘Offences Against the State or Public Order’.
3. Theft or unauthorised taking of a pedal cycle
As you may know, theft offences are typically high throughout the year compared to other offence groups. However, whilst many may associate theft with burglary, the 3rd greatest offence – and 1st greatest theft offence – to be committed during the summer is theft of a bicycle.
Across 2012-2021, theft of a bicycle occurred 25% more often in Q2 than any other time of year, with an average of 6,500 more occurrences each year. This totalled over 58,000 more occurrences during summer than any other time of year.
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, considering people are likely to use their bikes during the summer months instead of Winter and Autumn.
Theft of a bike is a huge issue around cities according to heat maps that display hot spots for bike theft to occur. Typically, the areas most affected are city centres, often where there are universities or where bikes are a popular form of transport to get around a busy city.
4. Other theft
‘Other Theft’ refers to theft from a person, including snatch theft and stealth theft. It also refers to theft of personal property that was not on the person at the time, for example items left in cloakrooms, or where the victim was not in their home during the incident. This was the 4th most common summer crime, happening more often in the summer that at other times of year.
Overall, there were just over 56,000 more ‘Other Theft’ offences in Q2 across the 10 year period on average compared to the rest of the year. This indicates a huge spike of theft in the summer, possibly due to people spending more time outdoors, leaving them vulnerable to pickpockets.
5. Assault without injury
Assault without injury is the 5th highest offence during the summer months compared to the rest of the year. It can occur without physically harming someone; the threat of violence is enough to qualify. It also involves intentionally or recklessly applying unlawful force to another person.
The figures show that instances of assault without injury are 3% higher during the summer than at any other time of the year. This amounts to 34,393 more instances of assault without injury during the summer months than any other time of the year, across the 10 year period.
Why are some crimes committed more often during the Summer?
Umar Zeb, Partner at JD Spicer Zeb solicitors, considered the statistics above to ascertain why certain crimes may be more prevalent during the Q2 months. He said:
“Crime rates rise and fall throughout the years for a number of economic and social reasons. For example, when there is political unrest, there may be more criminal activity, including assault, violent protest, and offences against the State.
“A brilliant example of such a case is highlighted within the ONS statistics we’ve analysed. Specifically, there is a clear increase in crime in 2020, particularly in Q2, which could be down to the easing of lockdown measures during a period of social unrest throughout the country. Increases in public order offences and racially aggravated offences were particularly widespread throughout the country at this time.
“The exact reasons for the spike in crime in 2020 can only be speculated. That said, this time period will be remembered for the varied protests that took place, some of which led to riots, as well as the rise in domestic abuse reports. This could explain the drastic increase across some offences.
“Ultimately, it’s interesting to consider how the season could also have an impact. There have even been studies surrounding the effects higher temperatures during the summer period may have on crime rates.
“Although there are no universally applicable answers to why crime rates may increase during the summer months, some possible reasons for a perceived increase in crime during this time could include a rise in inebriated socialising, increased population and tourism, school holidays, and a rise in criminal opportunities.”
Have you been accused of a seasonal crime?
For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice, immediate representation, or to speak to us confidentially about allegations discussed in this article, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
You can contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester. We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number at 07836 577 556.
Data Sources and Methodology
This data was sourced from the Office for National Statistics, in the ‘Police recorded crime open data tables’, which covers all crimes throughout England and Wales dating from 2012 up to March 2022. The data is the most up to date version possible, at the time of publication.
The list of crimes more likely to be committed during the summer months than any other time of year was found by finding the difference between the average number of crimes in Q2 with the average number of crimes across each year during the whole 10-year period.
The findings are split by offence group – the wider umbrella of crime - and offence description – the more granular criminal activity under these specific umbrellas.
It should be noted that these statistics are recorded crimes only, and therefore do not represent the true ‘dark figure’ of crime. However, the data set does allow for certain trends to be spotted.
Although this data was sourced via reputable sources, its interpretations are of the JD Spicer Zeb researchers.
How can we help?
We always work with the most experienced and best leading UK barristers, KCs (Kings Counsel). We cover all criminal cases 24/7 at the police station and court. Offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester cover cases across England and Wales. We can offer Legal Aid and affordable Private fee agreements. We can see you the same day, including virtually. Our Senior Partners supervise all of our cases.
How quickly do you respond?
We respond quickly even during out of hours. We do not get our work by paying for online adverts but based on the fact that few criminal law firms can match our 45 years of experience. Most of our cases are still from word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients. We are called daily by dissatisfied clients from firms with less experience than us. We respond very quickly to new enquiries. We know what clients seek and so we update clients rapidly.
Can you get cases dropped?
We always keep you updated and give straightforward advice. We will get cases dropped early where the case is weak or should not be prosecuted. We will be upfront with you about where you can benefit from a good result with an early guilty plea, such as a discount on your sentence. As we work on cases across all levels with clients from all walks of life, we are excellent at giving clear, spot-on advice. As an established firm, we can allocate a whole team to your case often at short notice to secure evidence to minimise the damage to you.
Have you won any awards?
OUR PROFESSIONAL BODY THE LAW SOCIETY AWARDED US IN OCTOBER 2020 WITH THE EXCELLENCE IN CLIENT SERVICE AWARD AND STATED -
"JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".
Do you offer free consultations?
Where it is possible, we aim to provide an initial consultation to you. If we can speak to you, we can if required inform you about –
- Whether we can take the case on and our relevant experience.
- Public and private funding benefits.
- Assistance in applying for legal aid where we are likely to accept instructions.
- An outline of options in police interview only. We will not advise you on which option to adopt.
- Providing our free written guide explaining the police station process.
- The gravity of routine and day-to-day offences you face.
- Consequences of not attending the court or police station.
- Consequences of interfering with any witnesses.
- Retaining any evidence in support of your case.
- If possible an outline of the elements of the offence that the police or CPS must prove.
- This consultation will normally be by telephone or email and will only be for as long as we deem necessary to establish if we can act for you. If we cannot usefully give you any advice in this manner then we will not continue with the consultation. We will not discuss the case in depth for you to be able to decide on your plea or any significant aspect of the case, as this cannot be undertaken informally.
- Referring you, if possible, to other firms for matters out of our specialism or if we cannot help.
Consultations do not apply to the following cases –
- If we do not intend to take the case on.
- Road Traffic cases, drink driving, drug driving, driving bans, speeding, no insurance, mobile phone use, points etc.
- In all cases where we do not have the capacity to take your case or the availability of suitably qualified staff to provide an initial free consultation. This is applicable in all cases but especially where a more senior lawyer is required because of your personal needs or the complexity of the case.
- Harassment/stalking/ coercive behaviour/malicious communications or road traffic cases and most sensitive cases. These cases are often too complicated to assess in short consultations.
- The locations concerned may be too distant to represent you adequately or it may not be cost-effective for you or us.
- The case is too complicated to assess or raises various charges or facts, complexity, or history to be considered informally or in a short consultation.
- In most Legal aid transfers where legal aid is granted to another firm except in very grave cases, we may assess the case and merits for a transfer.
- If your relationship has broken down with your existing solicitor or several solicitors.
- If you have been released under investigation and have already had a police station attendance.
- If you hold legal aid with another firm and seek a second opinion.
- If you are calling on behalf of the client as a friend or family member unless you have full authority and full facts.
- To businesses.
- Advising whether you were given good advice by your other solicitor.
- Whether to decide to plead guilty or not guilty.
- Whether you have an arguable defence in law or factually complicated defences.
- Any advice you have had after your first court appearance.
- Any advice on appeal on conviction or sentence.
- If we feel we are unable to communicate with you.
- If we are likely to be conflicted or breach our professional rules.