Nov 13, 2023 by Foresight

Does crime increase around Christmas time?

Whilst Christmas for most Brits is a treasured time of the year, often filled with happiness, laughter and making new memories, it is also unfortunately the most popular time of year for crime.

From an increased risk of theft and home burglaries, to spikes in domestic violence reports and driving under the influence, the festivities that come with Christmas celebrations are not always welcomed.   

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Hampshire takes the top spot as the area with the highest year-on-year change in crime rates. When comparing the rate of crime in December 2020 to that of December 2021, this South East county showed an increase of 33.82%. This level of increase shows the rise in crime that occurs primarily during the festive period compared to other times of the year. 

What’s more, it was reported that the Hampshire police force issued a warning for residents to protect their homes towards the lead-up to Christmas. This led to local neighbourhoods with the highest reports of burglaries being patrolled by the police. 

Following Hampshire comes Gloucestershire and Merseyside whereas the most recorded crimes by area have been recognised as the West Midlands with 32.24% of total recorded crimes year ending December 2020 and December 21, Dyfed-Powys with 26.53% and Greater Manchester with 26.43%, both during the same period.


Public order offences 

Statutory offences relating to public order primarily consider antisocial behaviours such as riots, violent disorder, and affray. During the Christmas season, these offences tend to be on the rise, especially due to an increase in alcohol consumption. 

According to the ONS research, public order offences saw an increase of 31.90% from January to December 2021. The number of public order offences witnessed also increased from December 2020 to December 2021, whilst figures rose from 31,881 in January 2021 to 42,052 by the end of the year. 


Substance and alcohol abuse

The holiday season can act as a trigger for many people who already have substance abuse problems, even giving them more license to indulge, and according to research from Harris House, drug and substance use immediately precedes 47% of domestic assaults, with 92% of abusers being found to have used substances at some point during the day of the assault.

Research from Drinkaware also reveals that 61% of drinkers in the UK over-indulge with alcohol over the festive season more than they usually do, with 33% of that those who drink at work being also more likely to feel pressured to drink at their festive work party and 16% of them admitting to having done something they regret at a works party because of alcohol.

What’s more, research by iCompario states that a 1 in 25 people have admitted to breaking the law by driving while under the influence after attending a Christmas party, with around 1.6 million UK motorists said to have knowingly driven home over the limits on more than one occasion.

13% also admitted that whilst they may not have driven home from a festive event over the legal limit, they have got into the car with someone who was.   


Domestic abuse

The increased time at home has been known to exacerbate domestic abuse as partners are forced to spend more time together, and holiday stresses such as financial strains, pressure of being around family and the increase in drinking alcohol can increase anxiety and anger levels to a breaking point.

This is having a devastating impact, with last Christmas Day alone, Police in Northern Ireland confirmed that their officers dealt with 97 incidents and 65 crimes, along with a further 161 incidents and 100 crimes of domestic abuse reported on New Year's Day 2022, an increase of 17 on the year before.

Breaking this down, officers dealt with a call every 16 minutes last December and January relating to domestic abuse claims.


Sexual offences

The rate of sexual offences increased by 32.35% from October to December 2021 in comparison to its first-quarter figures, according to the ONS, and out of these recorded sexual offences, stalking and harassment accounted for the majority of these crimes.

Not only did the level of criminal acts committed increase from 37,711 to 49,910 by the last quarter of the year, but when compared to October-December 2020, sexual offences had risen by 33%.

What’s more, approximately 357,655 sexual offences were recorded overall by police in England and Wales by December 2021. This is over 50,000 more cases than in December 2020 and an estimated 76,551 more than in January 2021.

This increase of 34.23% from January to December 2021 further highlights that people are more at risk of experiencing sexual assault during the months leading up to the festive season than they are at other times of the year.


Robberies and home break ins

Robbery is classed as a crime committed against a person, and especially around Christmas time when expensive gifts are exchanged, robbery offences take the top spot with the highest percentage increase in crime occurrences in December 2021.

Sadly, this means that Christmas is no stranger to thieves who view the festive period to be nothing but an incentive to commit a crime, and between October to December 2021 there were approximately 17,580 criminal incidents primarily related to robberies. This is 38.11% higher when compared to the first quarter of the same calendar year according to the findings.

And yet, despite having serious criminal charges attached, robbery offences continue to rise in the UK, with a recorded 8.61% change in crime rates from December 2020 to December 2021; a year-over-year increase which highlights a strong correlation between the rise in crime rates and its association with Christmas.

Research also shows that crimes related to robberies were 32.82% more in December than in January. This spike in crime rates implies that the festive period greatly impacted the level of crime that occurred that year. 



Unlike Robbery, theft is a crime committed against a person’s property, and over the past years there has been a sharp spike in the number of theft offences committed across the UK.

Out of these reported crimes, there has been a significant increase during the Christmas period, including an increase of 13% since the last quarter of 2020, but also a more than doubled crime rate since.

What’s more, the number of criminal incidents from October-December 2021 to the first quarter of the same year shows a massive difference of 35.10%. 

Considering 400,761 theft offences were recorded by police forces across England and Wales in just the last quarter of 2021 alone, this perhaps comes as no surprise.


How can Foresight help?

Whilst Christmas is supposed to be a time of relaxation and celebration, that is not always the case behind closed doors.

If you would like to talk to our team about instructing one of our experts, please get in touch. 

Foresight brings the UK’s most comprehensive panel of expert witnesses to support family and criminal law cases. As an industry-leading provider, we help legal professionals save time and work smarter by sourcing the most suitably qualified and highly experienced expert to support their case within LAA rates, if required - no matter the discipline, no matter the deadline.


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