Why Crime Increases Over the Holiday Period

Does more crime occur over the Christmas holidays and New Year’s break?

For the majority of people the Christmas holidays are all about spending quality time with loved ones, over stuffing oneself with Christmas Dinner and overall good cheer. However, for others the Christmas break is one of stress or worse a time full of fear and loneliness.

For victims of domestic violence Christmas and New Years can be the worst time of the year. As Nina Funnell in The Age points out “each year police and support services prepare themselves for a spike in domestic assault cases over the Christmas to New Years’ eve period.” She highlights how from “December 2009 to January 2010 police responded to more than 5000 domestic-violence related complaints” in NSW alone.

Why does domestic violence increase over the holiday season?

The spike in domestic violence over the holiday season Funnell concludes is due to a combination of factors including the “financial strain” from all the gift giving over Christmas, as well as the “stress” incurred by people spending a lot more time together than they normally do. Another cause is the “increase in alcohol consumption” and drug abuse that occurs over the holiday season. This is especially true for domestic violence offenders, many of which are alcoholics and drug addicts who try to ignore their condition so they can participate in the festivities.

Other criminal offences that surge over the Christmas holidays

In 2014, Crime Statistics for the South Australian Police show murder and homicide related offences were at their highest in December 2014 with 15 offences occurring this month versus a total of 54 offences that occurred over the remaining months combined. Robbery and related offenses were also at their highest during the month of December at 70.

Along with domestic violence offences, thefts, drink driving, burglaries and property crimes also greatly increase during the Christmas holidays.

Drink Driving over the holidays

Although the Christmas holidays are a time of joy, they are also a time of great stress as relatives get on each other’s nerves, bank accounts get savagely attacked and people without family feel the void even more. Whatever the cause there is increased stress and anxiety over Christmas. Whether it is to join in the convivial air of the season or to deal with holiday stress, alcohol consumption escalates exponentially over the holidays. For example, in the UK alcohol consumption shot up by 41 per cent during the month of December according to the UK Telegraph.

In order to reduce the stress that over socializing and over spending brings, people drink more alcohol or underestimate how much they have had to drink. As a result, alcohol related offenses increase over the holiday season. ‘Operation Arrive Alive’ kicked off on December 18th and since then there have already been 709 crashes and 5 fatalities in the seven days since it came into effect.

NSW Police report that for the period between the 18 to 25th December of this year the following statistics occurred:

Speed infringements: 6817
Breath tests: 291,896
Drink driving charges: 408
Major crashes: 709
Fatalities: 5

Christmas thefts and burglaries

With all the Christmas shopping and hustle bustle of the holiday season it is no wonder that thefts and burglaries also increase during the holiday season. Thieves are opportunists. Bags full of gifts left in plain sight just about beckon someone to break into your vehicle. Travelling out of town and leaving your house looking unoccupied makes you a prime target for a burglary.

Holiday thieves have no shame. They steal holiday donation cash boxes right off of store countertops, as well as toys that are collected to spread a bit of cheer to needy children over the holidays.

A few years ago even 16 tons of ham and bacon worth 90K were stolen from a warehouse in Sydney, Australia. So when it comes to the amount of crime that occurs over the Christmas holidays, there is definitely a spike is certain types of criminal offences like domestic violence, thefts, drink driving and burglaries.

Just because it is a holiday does not mean that offenders take a break.

Please note everyone should be free from fear or tragedy over the holiday season. If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence call the national Domestic Violence helpline at 1800 65 64 63.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence and need a criminal defence lawyer, call LY Lawyers for a free consultation over the Christmas Break on 1300 595 299.