Domestic violence reports increase in two major cities during COVID-19

July 10, 2020

A new analysis by researchers who analyze crime statistics shows that in two major metropolitan areas, domestic violence reports increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, the study focused on trends in Los Angeles and Indianapolis and looked at not only domestic violence but crimes such as burglary, assault, and vehicle theft.1

For the research, the authors analyzed daily counts of calls for service in the two cities beginning on January 2, 2020 and ending on April 21 for Los Angeles and April 18 for Indianapolis. Those time periods were defined as after shelter-in-place orders were given. Excluded from the analysis were time periods between school closings and shelter-in-place orders.

The objective was to compare full social distancing effects (post stay-at-home orders) to a baseline with no social distancing orders yet implemented. Expected police call rate change was computed by multiplying the estimated coefficient of residential mobility by the average residential mobility index post-shelter-in-place minus the average pre-school closing.

Significant increases in domestic violence calls were found in both Los Angeles and Indianapolis (expected call rate increases of 13.5495 and 15.2112; P = 0.0002 and P < 0.0001, respectively).

In contrast, call rate changes for burglary in Los Angeles and Indianapolis declined by 19.2740 and 2.3061, respectively. For robbery and battery, rates declined in both in Los Angeles and stayed the same in Indianapolis.

“The marginal decline in residential burglaries, marginal increase in auto thefts, and increase in domestic violence calls points to shifts in crime patterns to which police departments will necessarily have to respond,” said the authors.

They noted, however, that “despite domestic violence having been one of the crimes least reported to the police, with approximately half of domestic victimization being unreported, our results indicate that calls concerning domestic violence significantly increased in both Indianapolis and Los Angeles.”

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Reference
  1. Mohler G, Bertozzi AL, Carter J, Short MB, Sledge D, Tita GE, et al. Impact of social distancing during COVID-19 pandemic on crime in Los Angeles and Indianapolis. J Crim Justice. 2020;68:101692. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2020.101692