The Malta Independent 16 April 2024, Tuesday
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Police received 15,769 reports of crime in 2021, as number rises to pre-pandemic levels

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 20 February 2022, 09:30 Last update: about 3 years ago

15,769 reports of crime were received by the police in 2021, The Malta Independent on Sunday can reveal.

The information was provided by the police in response to questions sent by this newsroom.

According to the CrimeMalta Observatory’s Annual Crime Review, there were 13,087 reported offences in 2020, which means that in 2021 there was a significant 20.5% increase. However, one must keep in mind the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 on crime, given the restrictions that were present at the time keeping certain sectors closed for periods of the year, the fear of the virus and the severe effects on tourism numbers. While 2021 did see restrictions and did include the closure of, for example, restaurants for a time, people were generally more used to living with the virus and one could argue that the country eventually entered into a kind of Covid normality given the introduction of the vaccines.

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The largest number of reported crimes, filed with the police in 2021, are listed under the theft category (4,478 of such reports were made). The second highest number of reports is under the “damage” category, totalling 3,512 of such reports. An example of reports falling under this category include damage caused through hit and runs.

Fraud was the third highest category with 2,376 reports having been filed.

The summer months, June, July and August, were the three months that saw the highest number of crimes reported in 2021, the data shows, amounting to 31% of the total number of crime reports that year. 1,679 crimes were reported in June, 1,712 were reported in July and 1,537 were reported in August.

The months with the lowest number of reports were January with 1,001; February with 1,048 and December with 1,119 reports.

 

Comparison to previous years

While the number of crime reports received by the police in 2021 saw a significant increase when compared to the previous year, 2020 was a particular year for Malta. The argument could be made that the pandemic’s effects on the country in 2020 were more severe than in 2021. As an example, people were more confident venturing out in 2021 than in 2020, and tourism numbers rose, although they were still far below the 2019 levels.

The CrimeMalta report that had been published for the year 2020 makes the point regarding Covid. The year 2020 experienced a reduction of tourists visiting the Islands, the closure of recreational areas, diminishing crowds and the self-closure of citizens. Such resulted in a lesser number of crimes but also a reflection of how the national crime structure is depicted without the advent of tourism and in turn less chances for offenders to partake to. In contrast, crimes committed in virtual and domestic domains took on a new realism,” the 2020 report read.

The 2020 report also reads that it has to be read in context, that there is no comparable year with which to analyse the 2020’s reported crime data “unless one travels back in time before tourism, migration and the digital domain took precedence. This Crime Report resides in its own surreal context: a context steeped in a global pandemic that reconvened societal norms and severed links and relationships paramount in the understanding of crime”.

In 2020, there were 13,087 reported offences, the report reads, which means that in 2021 the police received 2,682 more reports of crime. While Covid’s impact on Malta was still present in 2021, the impact was arguably not as bad as it was in 2020 and people were not as fearful of living “normally” – at least in the second half of the year. Thus, it begs the question whether 2021 could reliably be compared to 2020 or not.

At the same time, one cannot discount the fact that the pandemic was still present in the islands and that there were restrictions which, for example, saw non-essential shops closed for a short period. In 2019, there were 15,589 reported offences, according to the CrimeMalta report for that year. This is a similar number to the number of crimes reported in 2021. But given the presence of Covid in 2021, it also begs the question as to whether one can reliably compare 2021 to 2019.

All the above leads to the question, should 2021 be taken as a statistic on its own, and would the crime numbers be higher or different had the pandemic not been present?

 

2021 Crime numbers

There were two homicides reported in 2021. These refer to 23-year-old Isaac Kwabena Kyere from Ghana, who was stabbed to death in Marsa in June 2021 and Marcelino Montalban Saraza, who was stabbed to death in Mellieha in July that year.

Among the other crime reports filed in 2021, 164 of them were for violence against public officers.

The data also shows that there were three reports of trafficking of persons, one of which was listed as sexual exploitation.

There were 167 reports of sexual offences; 46 of these reports were for defilement of minors and five were for grooming of minors. Fifteen were for sexual activity with minors.

The data also reads that in 2021 there were 37 reports or pornography, 20 of which were for child-related pornography.

In terms of domestic violence, 1,741 reports were filed with the police

In terms of money laundering, there were 180 reports that year.

Other crime reports related to threats, perjury, forgery and drugs, among others.

 

 

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