Many psychologists over the years have remarked upon the very real impact which the change in seasons has on our physical and mental well-being.
However, even those who would not consider their lives to be blighted by the condition known as ‘Seasonal-Affected Disorder’ would acknowledge a tendency to behave differently in the depths of winter compared to the height of summer.
Better weather tempts us from our homes to the great outdoors. Lighter evenings encourage socialising or a post-dinner stroll.
That such activities do not go unnoticed by others is something which occurred to me as I looked over fresh data issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It has just published figures providing a snapshot of crimes recorded by police forces across England and Wales.
The ONS notes that this latest material comes with a couple of caveats.
Some of the patterns in offences, for example, might be slightly skewed due to a change in how they are recorded.
In addition, practical difficulties in gathering information during the pandemic has led to a shift in reporting periods from 12 months mirroring the financial year to a calendar year basis instead.
Nevertheless, the publication is enough to raise an eyebrow.
The number of residential burglaries is up by 4.4 per cent in a year, with the number of break-ins featuring either the threat or actual use of violence rising by 3.2 per cent during the same period.
Crimes involving transport are also eye-catching. The theft of vehicles has climbed by nearly 26 per cent, while aggravated vehicle theft is up by one-tenth in the 12 months to December 2022.
Those offences in which the targets were two-legged instead of being either four- or two-wheeled seem especially significant – rising by 45.1 per cent in a single year.
Even if we take the ONS’ note of caution into account, these trends are worthy of consideration and response.
After all, vehicle crime has increased at a time when some car insurance premiums have experienced substantial hikes.
Furthermore, my colleague Eleanor Moore has previously remarked how insurers are limiting cover for certain types of cars.
The offences recorded by police and digested into the new ONS’ bulletin cover a period which saw the last restrictions of lockdown removed.
It doesn’t require a criminologist to reason that having more individuals out and about rather than obliged to remain at home for extended periods of time presents opportunities for those who prey upon people and property.
Yet even before the Covid-19 pandemic, criminals were capitalising on social media and smartphone fitness apps to compile details about potential targets.
Whilst it is important to keep a sense of perspective whenever official crime data is released, it is vital that we don’t become complacent and ignore the evidence.
A return to what might pass for normality in this post-pandemic age is doubtless welcomed by us all but we must also recognise the need to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our assets from those only too willing to capitalise on open windows or our desire for a spot of summer socialising.
Written by Geraint Jones, Senior Private Clients Executive