You don’t necessarily need me to tell you that we live and work in a world which is, in some senses, very much different to that which existed only three years ago.
Many of our long-established patterns were completely and perhaps irrevocably changed by the pandemic.
However, certain familiar elements – including some which are decidedly unwelcome – have gradually returned.
Take crime, for instance.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published crime figures for England and Wales covering the 12 months to September last year.
They are comprised of what the ONS describes as the first face-to-face interviews with victims of crime since we were all forced to confront the terrible professional and personal toll of Covid-19.
Such interaction, of course, was rendered impractical because of lockdown.
On the face of it, things seem rather positive. Overall crime figures are down by 10 per cent on those of March 2020 and police recorded robbery offences have dropped even further – by 21 per cent.
Mind you, there is a but…..
Even if we take the practicalities of putting the information together over the last few years into account and their potential for any limitations to affect the overall picture, we still find plenty of reasons as to why we shouldn’t think of dropping our guard just yet.
The crime numbers for 2020 saw the continuation of a downward track for many types of offences.
For me, that is perhaps most usefully illustrated by those crimes featuring most often in Broadway’s caseload, such as burglary, theft and vehicle offences.
In the year to March 2018, there were 309,869 residential break-ins. They reduced in each of the following years, dropping to 188,669 during the 12 months to the end of September 2021. Nevertheless, in the following year, they began increasing once more – up to 195,692.
To put that in some context, it meant that someone’s home was broken into every 161 seconds.
Given the lasting impact which every single crime can have on those who have to live with the consequences any increase, no matter how small, is a worry.
On a cold numerical basis, though, statisticians might argue that a 3.7 per cent year-on-year rise – and, in fact, the near one per cent increase in aggravated burglaries – is maybe not significant enough to merit particular concern.
To that, I would suggest that a 59 per cent annual uplift in offences categorised as ‘theft from person’ (mugging, to you and I) and the 29 per cent rise in vehicle thefts are indeed notable enough to pique our attention.
Casting around for explanations as to why we’re seeing those numbers, some people might be rather surprised. After all, they suggest, burglars don’t usually try and enter homes when so many individuals are now working from home.
Well, it is true that more of us are working from home. Another package of data produced by the ONS only last month showed that almost half of the working population is either working entirely from home or splitting their working week between their homes and offices.
Nevertheless, being at home is not a deterrent in itself. Furthermore, media reports in December outlined how almost one-third of homeowners didn’t have any security system in place.
In my experience and that of my colleagues, insurers are becoming more exacting when it comes to processing the sort of claims which might arise from a break-in or car theft.
They are more likely to require those taking out insurance to adhere to the requirements set out in policy schedules.
Having cover is something of a two-way street. Just as insurers agree to provide protection, customers agree to abide by policy small print.
That can not only include having home alarms but ensuring that such equipment is regularly serviced or maintained to remain effective.
It’s worth remembering too that those individuals bringing laptops and mobile ‘phones home from their offices are generally not covered if those items are stolen. They come within the terms of workplace insurance instead.
Although it might seem something of a headache, reading and noting the contents of policy schedules can avoid a lot of hassle and expense in the event of a crime.
Written by Jacqui Shaw, Private Client Executive