COVID-19 and social distancing measures in Queensland, Australia, are associated with short-term decreases in recorded violent crime

Jason L. Payne, Anthony Morgan, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The objective of this study is to test whether recorded rates of violent crime declined in the context of social distancing regulations in Queensland, Australia. Methods: ARIMA modeling was used to compute 6-month-ahead forecasts of rates for common assault, serious assault, sexual offenses, and breaches of domestic violence orders. These forecasts (and their 95% confidence intervals) are compared to the observed data for March and April 2020. Results: By the end of April, 2020, rates of common, serious, and sexual assault had declined to their lowest level in a number of years. For serious assault and sexual assault, the decline was beyond statistical expectations. The rate at which domestic violence orders were breached remained unchanged. Conclusions: Social distancing regulations are temporally correlated with reductions in some violent crimes. Social distancing is likely to have significantly limited interpersonal interaction, especially in locations and at times when violence is usually prevalent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-113
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Queensland
  • Social distancing
  • Violence

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