Police feel the heat as crime rises along with temperatures

For most people the arrival of summer provides the perfect excuse to try to master the tricky skill of cooking on a barbecue, sunbathe in a garden they usually never use and walk shirtless in places they otherwise would not. But for the police the hot weather signals one thing: a spike in crime.

Figures released by Greater Manchester Police show that last weekend – the hottest of the year so far – the force received nearly 12,000 calls, an increase of almost 20 per cent on the previous weekend. The Metropolitan Police, who normally get 5,693 calls a day, received a total of almost 16,000 over the weekend.

Strathclyde Police also reported a rise in the number of people ringing their call centre last weekend. On Saturday they received 6,265 calls, a rise of 34 per cent on the 4,661 on Saturday 15 May, and on Sunday there were 5,709, up 38 per cent on the 4,152 received on Sunday 16 May.

The rises were attributed to the hot weather – temperatures reached 30C in some parts of the country.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Thompson, from Greater Manchester Police, said: "Dealing with the changing weather conditions is something we work hard on. Clearly the weather can have a significant impact on the reliance on emergency services."

There are numerous theories and anecdotal evidence which suggest what types of crime increase in the summer and why. Alcohol-fuelled violence, for example, will rise because the hot weather prompts more people to go to pubs and drink. More people usually means more problems.

Burglary, too, often rises. Not only are people more likely to be out of their houses, but even if they are inside, the heat usually sees them open windows or doors, making it easier for opportunist criminals to get in.

Reports of sexual assault are also more common. With women wearing fewer clothes they can be at more risk of being groped or harassed by men who have been drinking too much.

Tourist hotspots can become crime hotspots when the sun comes out. With people flocking to one area they are prime targets for pickpockets.

Perhaps the worst example of a summer crime spike was that of teenage murders in London in 2008 when 16 young people were killed between May and September.

Barry Loveday, a criminologist from the University of Portsmouth, said: "Obviously you can't blame everything on the weather. Sometimes crimes are committed and they have nothing to do with how hot it is. But it is true that certain crimes do seem to spike during a heatwave. There was a study in France which looked at incidents of sexual attacks on children and it showed that when the weather improves there are more attacks because, quite simply, when it's hot, children are out playing and they are more vulnerable.

"I was once told by a police officer that when there is a planned demonstration or parade which they are worried might get out of hand, they pray for rain. I didn't believe it at the time, but if you think about it it makes perfect sense – fewer people are going to turn up if it is wet and that will likely make it an easier event to police.

"Similarly if you look at burglaries it makes sense that they spike in the summer and drop in the winter because burglars, like the rest of us, do not like getting wet. It is all common sense, but I don't think the public realise. They often assume that there are complex forces at work which determine when crime rises and falls, but often it is simple things like the weather."

One thing which officers fear will boost certain types of crime this summer is the World Cup, which begins next month. Pubs and parks will be full of people drinking alcohol, meaning a possible upturn in violence.

Traditionally, domestic violence also increases during the tournament, particularly on days when England are playing. A study carried out by the Association of Chief Police Officers shows that domestic violence rose by nearly 30 per cent on England match days during the 2006 competition.

But burglary is likely to drop during England matches as many criminals will prefer to watch the football.

Trouble in the sun

May Day riot

1 May 2000

Four days of peaceful anti-capitalism protests in London eventually boiled over as 1,000 people rioted, resulting in 100 arrests. Nine police officers were injured as windows were smashed and bottles, sticks, iron bars, bricks and scaffolding were thrown.

Toxteth riots

3 July 1981

Long-standing tensions between police and the local black community came to a crescendo in the July heat. The riots left 500 police officers injured as youths used petrol bombs and broken glass during nine days of violence.

Watts riots

11 August 1965

During six sweltering days in the height of the Californian summer, a mob of more than 1,000 residents of the Watts neighbourhood in South Central Los Angeles carried out a crusade of violence against Caucasian policemen, leaving 34 people dead, 2,000 injured, and 4,000 locked up.

Mosley rally

31 July 1962

Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley and his followers were assaulted by several thousand protesters as he tried to give a speech to his anti-Semitic Blackshirt group out of the back of a lorry in Dalston, east London. 200 police were called in to disperse the crowds.

Chicago race riot

27 July – 3 August 1919

Dozens of people died and hundreds were injured in what is considered the worst of approximately 25 racial conflict riots that took place during the Red Summer of 1919, named after the violence and fatalities across the nation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
i100
Sport
footballFollow the latest news from tonight's friendly
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
All the people: Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn, Alex James and Dave Rowntree
musicThe Magic Whip, album review
News
people
News
Presenter Jack Nicholson and George Clooney pose in the press room after 'Argo' won the trophy for Best Picture during the 85th Annual Academy Awards on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood.
people
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
Scholars left shaken after ultraviolet light reveals faces staring at them from medieval manuscripts
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell