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COVID-19 to disrupt emergency preparation and response plans for 2021 North Atlantic Hurricane Season – Americas Analysis

Executive Summary

  • The 2021 North Atlantic Hurricane Season is expected to witness at least 10 hurricanes between June and November.
  • Planning for the season will be impacted by COVID-19 considerations, including restrictions on travel.
  • Based on the situation in 2020, the region’s uneven COVID-19 response will be disrupted by these storms, just as vaccination campaigns are set to speed up.
  • Given this, the 2021 Hurricane Season will have long-term impacts on the health, transport, and political infrastructure of Central and North America, and the Caribbean.
  • Those operating or residing in the Caribbean, Central America, and North America are advised to review and update existing hurricane preparedness protocols in consideration of COVID-19 regulations.

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Please be advised

North Atlantic Hurricane Season: 2020 review and 2021 forecast

  • Between 2011-2020, there was an average of 17 named tropical storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes in the North Atlantic each year (17-7-3). In 2020, this ratio was 30-13-6. It was the most active hurricane season on record, with Hurricane Iota being the latest Category 5 to form in November since 1932; the fifth season in a row that a Category 5 has formed.
  • Within the Caribbean, Central America, and North America, over 430 deaths were recorded and over 50 billion USD in damages were caused by widespread flooding, landslides, debris falling, and disruptions to essential utilities.
  • Hurricane Laura (Cat 4) killed 77 [42 USA, 31 Haiti, 4 Dominican Rep] and caused over 14 billion USD worth of damages over nine days in August, fluctuating in strength, regaining enough power over the Gulf of Mexico to be the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana in over 150 years.
  • Hurricane Delta’s wind speeds intensified from 55 kmph (35 mph) to 215 kmph (130 mph) within 24-hours, the fastest such intensification on record. The hurricane knocked out power to over 750,000 customers in the USA as it passed along the Gulf Coast.
  • For 2021, as of April 18, various observers forecast between 16-18 named storms, 6-9 hurricanes, and 3-4 major hurricanes between June and November. It should be noted that at the same time in 2020, the same observers forecast similar numbers based on the decadal average, 17-7-3, while the end tally was nearly double on all counts.

Impact of North Atlantic hurricane seasons 2011-2020

2020 witnessed unprecedented modern-day impact in Central America

  • Hurricanes Eta and Iota passed over Central Americas in November 2020 and were responsible for at least 270 of the roughly 430 deaths recorded across North and Central America during the 2020 Hurricane Season.
  • Roughly nine billion USD worth of damage was reportedly sustained, including five billion USD to Honduras alone during Hurricane Eta.
  • Landslides and flooding hit large parts of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and other countries in the region, destroying infrastructure and causing widespread homelessness.
  • The US Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated that roughly 3.5 million people in Central America were facing an acute food and livelihood crisis due to the two hurricanes.


Tropical Storms are retaining more power for longer

  • According to research undertaken by the Okinawa Institute of Science Technology Graduate University, tropical storms in the North Atlantic are losing power less quickly once they make landfall.
  • Tropical cyclones gain their strength from hot waters and moisture, normally losing a significant amount of their energy once they make landfall. The research claims that in the past 25 years, tropical storms are retaining close to double the amount of energy once over land compared to the previous 25 years due to climate change.
  • As such, rather than losing 75 percent of their intensity after 24 hours above land, this figure is now closer to 50 percent. This means that tropical cyclones will not only be more powerful as they move over land but will also last longer and potentially move deeper inland, depending on other factors.

Tropical storms in the North Atlantic


COVID-19 Update

  • The USA has been one of the worst affected countries by COVID-19. Of the states most impacted, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas are all situated within the typical impact zones for hurricanes. In several states, hospitals have been overwhelmed during parts of the pandemic, due to the sudden influx of COVID-19 patients, especially as those with severe cases need at least several weeks of treatment in ICUs.
  • These states, as well as Alabama, Louisiana, and South Dakota have roughly 20-30% of their populations fully vaccinated, as of April 18, with various agencies forecasting that most adults in these states will be fully vaccinated by July or August, as long as current rates are maintained. However, various groups, including ethnic minorities and those from poorer socio-economic communities, have slower rates of vaccine uptake compared to the wider population.
  • Outside of the USA, most of Central and North America is only just beginning vaccination campaigns. Most countries in Central America have witnessed negligible vaccination distribution, while the Caribbean’s distribution efforts are uneven. This is partially due to many relying on the WHO COVAX vaccine distribution system, which has been slow and sporadic in its delivery so far. As of March 31, it had only distributed 38 million of the 100 million doses it planned to deliver.
  • Authorities have raised concerns over potential evacuation plans during COVID. The recent eruption of the La Soufriere volcano on St Vincent & Grenadines has led to a spike in cases, as evacuees are forced into shelters together, with limited oversight of COVID restrictions and testing. The health situation has reportedly been exacerbated by poor infrastructure, including water and electricity supply.

Percentage of population covered by covid-19 vaccines

Assessments & Recommendations

COVID-19 regulations to disrupt hurricane planning and response


  1. In many areas that are used to responding to tropical storms, many individuals and organizations will have ‘go-to’ evacuation destinations. However, these destinations may be out of reach or require extra planning in 2021 due to the remaining restrictions.
  2. Although many states in the USA eased domestic travel restrictions, various counties and states maintain some form of entry restrictions, whether it be for certain international travelers or testing or quarantine requirements for those entering the area. As such, even those who have designated evacuation locations will need to reconfirm their emergency itineraries.
  3. This situation is also liable to be similar in Central America, where residents typically move inland during times of hurricanes. Given that major cities have been the hotbed of COVID-19 in these countries, there may be additional restrictions, not related to entry, that are still in place.
  4. As demonstrated with St Vincent & Grenadines, in the Caribbean, evacuations are liable to be significantly disrupted, especially for those who typically evacuate out of the country or to another region within the country. For example, the Bahamas currently requires a negative test to travel between various regions of the islands. Inter-island travel within the Caribbean is liable to be extremely limited during such times, with testing often sparse.


  1. Identify multiple potential evacuation destinations and routes in the case of a hurricane.
  2. Remain cognizant of COVID-19-related entry requirements for destination locations, including testing and quarantine.
  3. Remain cognizant of local COVID-19 restrictions in destinations, such as curfews, mask requirements, and which stores are allowed to open and when.
  4. In case of the need to quarantine upon arrival, ensure that evacuation destinations are stocked with water and food per person, first aid items, medications, flashlight, batteries, radio, and other essential supplies for the duration of the stay.


Impact on healthcare and authorities’ response

  1. Emergency and healthcare services across the region are already stretched thin, with resources being redirected to COVID-19 patients and oversight. This is liable to lead to a fragmented and disrupted response to tropical storms and their results. Healthcare services, in particular, are likely to witness a dual problem during hurricanes this year.
  2. Those hospitals and medical facilities within hurricane zones are liable to witness similar rates of injuries and patients to normal years, although many have their resources limited by COVID-19, especially ICU capacity, potentially impacting their ability to treat emergency patients during hurricanes.
  3. Additionally, in many places, those facilities that are within evacuation zones move patients to locations outside of the area. Given that most facilities at present have dedicated resources and personnel to specifically deal with COVID-19 patients, such operations will be additionally complicated, as well as the destination facilities having their resources stretched to deal with the existing COVID-19 patients and the additional influx, impacting other services.
  4. In the case of mass evacuations, police are also liable to be overstretched, with local forces likely to be unable to enforce COVID-19 restrictions during such times. The ability of health and emergency authorities to evacuate at-risk populations en masse will be disrupted and complicated, especially regarding those who belong to communities that are less likely to have had vaccinations. The dual-task of maintaining COVID-19 restrictions and overseeing emergency response operations may reduce police efficacy in responding to criminal acts during such times.


  1. Those operating or residing within hurricane impact zones should create an emergency supply kit with three days’ worth of water and food per person, first aid items, medications, flashlight, batteries, radio, and other essential supplies in case of being unable to evacuate.
  2. Acquire additional prescription medication ahead of time if possible.
  3. Identify available healthcare facilities in destination locations.
  4. Maintain vigilance for potential criminal behavior during times of evacuations.
  5. Take additional measures to ensure asset security during such times.

Things to consider in hurricane planning during covid-19


Hurricanes liable to lead to COVID-19 spike in both impacted area and evacuation destinations

  1. As witnessed in St Vincent & Grenadines, the mass movement of people due to natural hazards will likely lead to spikes in COVID-19 cases in shelters and areas receiving refugees and evacuees.
  2. Especially outside more developed areas, there is liable to be limited recording of who is moving where and whether they have been tested, vaccinated, or quarantined. As mentioned above, police and healthcare services are unlikely to be able to effectively monitor these aspects amid mass movements of people during times of emergency. As such, destination areas, often large cities in Central America and the Caribbean, may witness an increase in COVID-19 cases in the weeks following evacuations, worsening the strain on already limited healthcare services.
  3. On the other hand, as is often witnessed in southeastern states in the USA, poorer individuals are more likely to have to stay in affected areas, unable to evacuate due to lack of transport, family to stay with, or funds for accommodation. In such cases, many often amass at local shelters, including sports stadiums, schools, or other public sites. Governments will face significant pressure to balance ensuring that those who use such facilities are tested for COVID while making sure that no one is turned away. As such, already stretched authorities will have to make contingency plans for these scenarios, possibly having to increase capacities at facilities in order to house tested and non-tested individuals separately.
  4. In both cases, the mass number of individuals involved makes even those locations with high vaccination rates open to spikes in COVID-19 cases following evacuations, sheltering, and returning citizens following the end of emergency situations. This may reverse recent gains made from the vaccine campaign and result in the reintroduction of certain restrictions.


2021 Hurricane Season likely to have a long-term impact on politic, healthcare, and infrastructure

  1. As witnessed in 2020, the massive economic and infrastructural impact of Hurricanes Eta and Iota still have an effect on local populations and national politics, over six months later.
  2. Given the confluence of a potentially record-breaking hurricane season and the COVID-19 pandemic, in Central America, a complete loss of trust in governments may ensue, with non-state actors, including regional criminal groups, becoming the go-to provider of aid and services to local communities.
  3. Furthermore, the mass displacement of individuals during a period of economic downturn and pandemic is liable to lead to heightened criminal activity within affected regions, especially in Central America, potentially into the long term.
  4. Politicians are liable to be judged by their response to these crises, with multiple countries in the region slated to have local or national elections in the coming year or so, including Costa Rica, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, and the Bahamas. These votes are likely to be impacted by the health crisis and upcoming natural hazards.
  5. Given the already stretched public resources, the regional response to damaged infrastructure, including transport, utilities, and communications, may be slowed, making repair works slower, with areas of significant impact potentially witnessing several months without or with a limited supply of essential supplies.

General Recommendations for Hurricane Season

  1. Those operating or residing in the Caribbean, Central America, and North America are advised to review and update existing hurricane preparedness protocols in consideration of COVID-19 regulations.
  2. Instruct employees on updated procedures. Inform employees of local emergency and evacuation plans.
  3. If not in an area ordered for evacuation, stay at home, close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Secure any loose objects outdoors.
  4. Confirm that places where you will be located have working generators in case of power outages while packing sufficient batteries and flashlights.
  5. Charge essential electronic devices such as cellular phones, laptops, and tablet computers ahead of the planned power outage, and initiate energy-saving functions on these devices as needed.
  6. Disconnect all surge-prone devices such as computers, televisions, and appliances to prevent potential damage.
  7. Allot extra time for travel and flight disruptions; reconfirm overland and flight travel itineraries, and remain cognizant of local updates.
  8. Do not walk or drive through floodwaters.
  9. Avoid contact with floodwater, including through bathing and drinking. Ensure adequate supply of bottled water; boil water before consumption as a last resort.
  10. Practice increased health and sanitation precautions to mitigate risks of contracting waterborne diseases during the flooding. Drink only bottled water and avoid exposure to flood water and natural bodies of water when possible.
  11. For more information please contact [email protected]

Dutch PM Rutte likely to form new four-party coalition, with policy possibly taking lean towards left – Netherlands Analysis

Executive Summary

  • The center-right VVD led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte emerged as the largest party in the March 2021 Dutch national elections, followed by center-progressive-liberal D66, right-wing populist PVV, and centrist CDA.
  • Due to the significant fragmentation of both the right- and left-wing, even by Dutch standards, various coalition formations are possible.
  • Nonetheless, the results indicate that VVD and D66 will likely form the core of the next governing coalition, with one or multiple smaller parties.
  • D66’s gains could lead to a slight policy shift to the left within a continuation of a center-right government or lead to the inclusion of left-wing parties in a coalition.
  • Travel to the Netherlands may continue while remaining cognizant of COVID-19 regulations and maintaining vigilance for related unrest.

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Current Situation

  • In the March 2021 Dutch national elections, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD) retained its place as the largest party with 34 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, gaining one. The centrist-progressive-liberal Democraten 66 (D66) came in second with 24 seats; right-wing populist Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) came third with 17 seats and centrist Christen-Democratische Appel (CDA) was fourth with 15 seats.
  • With a five-seat increase, the socially-liberal and pro-EU D66 overtook its coalition ally CDA.
  • New parties entering parliament include right-wing populist Juiste Antwoord 2021 (JA21), social-liberal Volt Nederland (Volt), agrarian BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB), and anti-racist and anti-capitalist Bij1.
  • Specific issues, such as the climate crisis and post-COVID socioeconomic recovery, remained unheeded in the campaign, being dominated by the theme of “trusted leadership” concerning the handling of COVID-19 instead.



  • Under the Dutch system, parliament is elected by proportional representation. Fourteen parties sat in the former parliament. A record 37 contested in the 2021 election, with 17 gaining seats.
  • On January 15, 2021, Prime Minister Rutte’s government resigned amid a subsidies scandal. The resignation followed a failed attempt by Rutte to win the backing of coalition allies, signaling the start of political hostilities before the election.
  • Rutte remains as caretaker PM until a new government is formed post-election.
  • Between January 23-25, police reportedly detained over 500 demonstrators nationwide as mass anti-COVID-19-related protests against a nightly curfew turned violent. Rioters conducted widespread vandalism. Journalists and camera crews were also targeted. Over a dozen officers were injured while utilizing forceful dispersal measures. Rutte denounced the events as “criminal violence.”
  • Over 16,000 people are confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in the Netherlands, with over 1.2 million cases. Less than four percent of the population have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as of writing.

Assessments & Forecast

COVID-19 pandemic was the main influence on the election results, despite recent benefits scandal

  1. Despite the recent benefits scandal, the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was the largest influencer of the election results, with the limiting of the electoral campaign to social media, advertising, and televised debates due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions likely also being a factor.
  2. The increase of the number of parties to 17 highlights further fragmentation and the reduction of mainstream parties’ dominance. That said, VVD’s success despite the subsidies scandal is likely owing to Rutte’s “herd immunity policy,” appearing as the leading “statesman” to deal with the crisis, emphasizing another required term to get the country through the pandemic. Additionally, VVD’s one-seat gain is likely mainly due to first-time voters and a shift in votes away from CDA and the 50PLUS (50+) party.
  3. D66 emerged as the primary beneficiary of the elections. Its gains are likely attributable to posing itself as the left-leaning party with the most chance of being able to have a significant impact on a potential government coalition. Additionally, its progressive stances offered an alternative to Dutch far-right populism for those looking for another option to Rutte. Further, it likely won GroenLinks (GL) votes by holding similar positions on issues such as climate and immigration policies.
  4. This position as an “acceptable alternative” option to Rutte for centrists is likely to have also played a part in diminishing the CDA’s votes, with Rutte and the more right-wing parties also eating into the party’s votes from both wings.
  5. That Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA) finished unchanged and left-leaning parties Socialistische Partij (SP) and GL, lost almost half their seats, indicates a further decline of the Dutch center-left and progressive wing, jointly amassing only 33 seats. Meanwhile, the SP’s regression is likely influenced by its right-wing basis campaigning and its recorded membership slump.
  6. On the other side of the political spectrum, the election generated a radical reorganization of the populist right-wing, which achieved its best-combined result with an overall total of 28 seats but became more fragmented in the process, with PVV losing seats to JA21 and Forum voor Democratie (FVD). This is liable to be partially due to the alleged ineffectiveness of PVV leader Geert Wilders from various sections of the right-wing, with others claiming he has tried to pursue non-far-right positions to gain votes. The right-wing likely gained ground by capitalizing on riots and protests organized against COVID-19 measures, seizing on the growing anger towards the regulations and resulting economic hardships.


Although coalition building will be challenged by a shift in power of current partners, a VVD-led four-party government remains the most likely outcome

  1. The Dutch coalition-making process typically takes months, although, in 2017, it took a record 225 days. Despite Rutte’s calls for swift negotiations amid the COVID-19 crisis and weakened economy, D66 leader Sigrid Kaag reiterated her desire to include more left-wing parties to form a more progressive coalition that could prolong the process.
  2. Nonetheless, the most likely coalition includes a continuation of the former four-party coalition between the VVD, CDA, D66, and the ChristenUnie (CU), and primarily agreeing on principal policy issues. However, a significant bone of contention could be around social issues, such as abortion and euthanasia, given the differences between D66 and the CU. Further, the existing disparity on immigration, asylum, climate, and extensive agricultural and nitrogen policies may prove obstacles to reforming this grouping.
  3. Judging by these contentions, VVD, CDA, and D66 may seek an alternative partner to CU, likely to include one of the parties on the left, namely PvdA, SP, GL, Partij voor de Dieren (PvdD), Volt, Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP), or DENK. Rutte’s proven willingness to be flexible makes such a coalition possible, as long as the smaller partner’s demands for joining are not deemed to be too radically to the left. Additionally, D66 has stated that it is reluctant to work with either GL or PvdA, due to irreconcilable differences, further limiting the options for partners on the left.
  4. As such, given that no parties have ruled out cooperating with right-wing populist JA21, and the party holds eight seats in the Senate, providing a government majority in both chambers, Rutte could consider inviting them to discussions. However, this would likely be met with resistance from D66 due to disagreements on climate change, EU integration, and immigration policies.
  5. While Volt would likely be D66’s preferred choice for a fourth coalition partner amid its pro-EU stance, Rutte is unlikely to support this due to VVD’s reluctance to further European integration, support of a stricter asylum policy, and investment in defense instead of healthcare.
  6. Despite his apparent support, multiple extensive parliamentary inquiries are likely to weigh on Rutte in the coming years and potentially cause political instability amid accountability debates. These include the child benefit scandal, damage to houses amid earthquakes from natural gas extraction, and the government’s unpreparedness for the health crisis. As such, even if the VVD is able to reach a coalition agreement, the stability of any government is liable to be tested, with a possible Rutte departure likely to lead to a swift collapse.
  7. If a four-party coalition of VVD, D66, CDA, and a smaller partner fails, then a center-left coalition with VDD’s support becomes a possibility, a development the D66 as a center-progressive party likely prefers, potentially trying to secure the PM role as the largest party. However, the significant differences between the party and the various left-wing parties will make discussions difficult, if irreconcilable. Furthermore, that left-wing parties GL, PvdA, and SP went from a combined 37 seats to 26 would mean a left-wing coalition would require seven parties, which is highly unlikely to reach an agreement.
  8. A coalition including the PVV and FVD is implausible, as most mainstream parties have ruled out working with these parties amid their relatively extreme right-wing and racist, xenophobic, and conspiratorial rhetoric and anti-Islam policies. This rules out a right-wing alliance between VVD, CDA, and PVV, which had a coalition agreement between 2010 and 2012.


Despite a possible new fourth party in most likely coalition option, if Rutte remains PM, policy changes are likely to be limited

  1. If Rutte remains Prime Minister, as is most likely at this point, the various four-party coalition outcomes would likely see policies remain largely in line with the previous government, with less focus on fiscal consolidation, given the severe COVID-19-generated impact on the economy. However, D66’s gains could lead to a slight policy shift to the left, including an increased focus on combating climate change, equality of opportunity, and European cooperation. Nonetheless, fiscal responsibility would remain a key pillar of government policy. As none of these parties advocated a rapid reduction of the public deficit, unlike in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, long-term debt sustainability rather than short-term consolidation is likely. Further, as both VVD and D66 agreed-upon pension policy change, the next government will likely introduce related legislation.
  2. The Netherlands’ place within the EU would likely be raised in such a coalition, with Rutte having led a number of countries opposing a more abundant COVID-19 financial recovery package, while D66 has called for greater cooperation within the bloc. Considering German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepping down in September, the UK’s exit in January, and the mixed response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to steer the EU, regional leaders are liable to look to Rutte as the ‘senior statesman’ within the bloc, having been in power for over 10 years. As such, should the D66 be able to sway Rutte towards a more cooperative view, the impact on the wider EU could be significant.
  3. Although appearing to be unlikely at this stage, a center-left, non-VVD led coalition, would entail a shift to the center-left on some policies, including climate change and socioeconomic issues. While the competing parties were divided on various issues, sustainable development and climate policies were part of all platforms, albeit at varying levels. As such, any COVID-19 response plan would likely have some leaning towards these considerations.


Both right- and left-wing parties likely to seek to attract voters from more centrist parties, as possible coalition will force governing partners to compromise

  1. The right-wing-to-far-right parties are likely to continue to build their electoral prospects in opposition, attempting to attract potential disaffected VVD voters, especially if the government does swing more to the left. Such considerations may influence Rutte to withstand drifting too far to the left, potentially increasing instability in a coalition that could contain progressive or left-wing parties.
  2. If the GL, PvdA, and SP fail to join the new coalition, they could potentially form a left-wing pact in the opposition as a counterweight to a center-right ruling block and a prominent right-wing opposition. As long as socio-cultural issues continue to dominate Dutch politics, left parties, including Volt, PvdD, DENK, and BIJ1, will likely continue to face competition from non-socialism-based parties near-term and remain a marginal force in an ever rightward-shifting political landscape. As with VVD, however, should D66 be deemed to be straying too far to the right or “giving in” to too many right-wing demands, they may similarly lose support to the left.
  3. In the short term, protests against the ongoing regulations are likely, with both right- and left-wing groups participating and political parties taking part in order to solidify support. As such, a repeat of the earlier violence is possible. Additionally, should radical parties continue to support, either overtly or tacitly, various conspiracy theories linked to the vaccine, the risk of further attacks on related sites and personnel can be expected.


  1. Travel to the Netherlands may continue as per government directives concerning the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
  2. Those operating or residing in the Netherlands are advised to remain cognizant of the ongoing political developments and the latent risk of civil unrest in the coming months.
  3. For more information on the security situation, please contact [email protected].

COVID-19 lockdown measures to affect criminal patterns across Europe – Europe Analysis

Executive Summary

Since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions in February-March, multiple countries across Europe reported a significant drop in home burglaries, violent robberies, and thefts. Meanwhile the region saw an increase in burglaries at commercial establishments, theft of medical supplies, as well as racial and domestic violence.

The expected economic downturn from the lockdown will likely lead to a return to pre-crisis rates or an increase in robberies and other violent crimes and in anti-establishment sentiments while presenting human traffickers new opportunities in the long-term.

In the short-to-medium term, the disruption of narcotics supply chains will likely lead to low-level drug dealers shifting to alternative crimes, such as burglary and armed robberies, and the sale of more dangerous alternatives. Going forward, supply shortages and increasing demand for illicit drugs may increase gang-violence as restrictions begin to ease.

Nonessential travel within Europe should be voided as per government directives amid COVID-19, while remaining cognizant of local criminal activity.

Current Situation

Decrease in home burglaries, violent robberies, and drug trafficking

Multiple countries have reported a shift in criminal activity since February when countries began implementing COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Spanish police recorded a roughly 50 percent decline in criminal offenses compared to the same period in 2019 since the partial lockdown on March 14.

French authorities reported a 45 percent drop in crime rates between March-April, with the most significant decreases seen in burglaries of accommodation, robberies with weapons, and vehicle thefts.

Italy witnessed a 72 percent decrease in home robberies in March 2020 compared to 2019, while other robberies dropped by roughly 54 percent and drug-related offenses by 46 percent.

Dutch, German, Greek, Irish, and Swedish authorities witnessed a similar reduction in thefts and burglaries, with thefts in Greece dropping by 25 percent as of April.

Slovenia witnessed a recent decrease in burglaries, robberies in residential areas, and property crimes compared to 2018.

Knife crime reportedly declined in London in the latter half of March, while public violence and home burglaries decreased across the UK.

The French anti-narcotics agency, OFAST, reported in early April that the suspension of air traffic significantly disrupted the inflow of cocaine. Reports also indicate that supply shortages have also been recorded in Germany since the closing of borders. Nonetheless, trafficking networks have attempted to smuggle drugs via cargo. In the UK, drug treatment experts warned that a drop in the supply of narcotics has resulted in users turning to more dangerous alternatives such as the synthetic opioid Fentanyl, which can be obtained with a prescription.

Increase in commercial burglaries, theft of medical supplies, domestic and racial violence

Despite the decrease in certain crimes, other offenses have witnessed an uptick.

Large numbers of scams, thefts, and the illegal sale of medical supplies were recorded across Europe in recent months. Three pharmacists in southern France were arrested for illegally reselling face masks, as per March 28 reports. Individuals were arrested in Hungary and the Netherlands for scamming individuals and hospitals into buying non-existent protective masks. On March 23, oxygen canisters were stolen from a hospital in the UK. Multiple incidents of verbal and violent attacks on healthcare workers and vandalism of ambulances were also reported across the region. Interpol stated that organized crime is thriving by trading in counterfeit goods due to an increased demand for medical and hygiene products.

Multiple countries recorded an increase in burglaries at closed commercial establishments, pharmacies, and other stores that remain open, with Madrid recording nine pharmacy robberies in one day. In Italy, theft and robbery of pharmacies has only decreased by about 13 percent compared to the overall drop of robberies of between 54 and 72 percent. Meanwhile, authorities in Sicily bolstered security near supermarkets and grocery stores as a result of an uptick in shoplifting.

There are also reports of organized criminal groups across southern Italy using the situation to extort local enterprises in need of short-term loans to cover the commercial losses.

In terms of anti-foreign sentiment, there have been a number of notable incidents targeting individuals of Asian descent in recent weeks. In the UK, the owner of a Chinese restaurant was attacked by a group in Hertfordshire, before being asked if the victim had COVID-19. An individual of Asian descent was assaulted in Munich, Germany, with the assailant spraying disinfectant in the victim’s face while yelling “corona.”

Finally, countries across Europe have reported a surge in domestic violence since the start of lockdowns. Within the first week since March 17, there was a 32 percent increase in France’s domestic violence cases and a 36 percent increase in Paris. Spain witnessed an 18 percent increase and the UK a 25 percent increase in calls and online requests concerning domestic abuse since the beginning of the lockdown.


Assessments & Forecast

Economic downturn resulting from lockdown to increase domestic burglaries, property vandalism, and organized crime in the medium-to-long term

Given that the lockdowns have significantly altered the activity of the public and criminals alike, the drop in residential burglaries, violent theft, public violence, and knife crimes is a direct effect of the quarantine measures limiting the opportunities for crimes of this nature. Therefore, it is unlikely for this trend to persist as restrictions begin to ease.

On the contrary, with the economic impact of the lockdowns likely to be felt well beyond their removal, domestic burglaries, thefts, and ATM robberies are liable to gradually rise following the easing of restrictions.

With studies following the economic crash in 2008 demonstrating a correlation between rising homicide and assault rates and economic downturns, the expected economic crisis is also liable to trigger an increase in violent crimes, especially among relatively socioeconomically underdeveloped communities. As a result of economic stress, violent robberies in relatively wealthier neighborhoods and vehicular theft are liable to rise as a means to earn money.

With certain sections of the society, especially urban youth, being likely to be disproportionately affected by the economic slowdown, these worst affected groups are liable to increasingly engage in criminal behavior. Rising poverty and unemployment resulting from the lockdowns are likely to create opportunities for organized criminal networks to increase trafficking activities and recruitment. Countries that already had a significant presence of organized crime are liable to witness increased activity. As demonstrated in southern Italy, such groups are liable to take advantage of the increased potential for human smuggling, extortion, racketeering, and money laundering, embedding themselves in local economies for the long-term. This may be exacerbated as criminal groups look to gain a footing in local businesses in order to benefit from any potential government bailouts which may look to help small businesses and the self-employed.

Popular discontent among the sectors of society most affected by job cuts and economic downturn will likely result in increasing anti-establishment sentiments and resentment towards governments and certain organizations. Companies that undertook more severe job cuts and failed to provide employees with adequate compensation are liable to be the primary targets of protests and vandalism in the months following the removal of lockdown measures.

Illicit drug shortages to see low-level dealers shift to alternative crimes in short-to-medium term and increase gang violence in the long-term

In addition to international border restrictions having significantly impacted the supply of illicit drugs from South America and Asia, they are likely to have reduced access to chemical precursors used in the production of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine that are largely procured from China. Given that travel restrictions to and from China were among the first to be introduced, the production of drugs has likely been impacted since January. The liquidity of trafficking groups has also likely been severely affected, especially among the mafia of Albania and Italy, with merchants unable to pay extortion fees amid lockdowns.

Due to movement restrictions during lockdowns, low-level criminals, who otherwise rely on the sale of drugs on the streets, are liable to resort to the other crimes, such as theft of medical supplies and burglaries or armed robbery to maintain a source of income. Additionally, due to shortages in the supply of heroin, dealers may also resort to the sale of more dangerous alternatives like fentanyl, which are easier to procure, store, and transport in smaller batches. In addition, supply chain issues will likely put considerable pressure on any domestic supplies in Europe, most likely Cannabis, which can be grown in makeshift greenhouses. This may catalyze a short term increase in local production, especially with police likely not focusing on such issues at present.

As restrictions begin to ease, while trafficking routes for illicit drugs will open up, the demand for cocaine and heroin is likely to be significantly higher than supply, especially in Western Europe. The resulting high prices are likely to lead to violent confrontations between gangs fighting over control of the limited supplies. With this, gun violence and homicide rates could see a rise following the reopening of borders. This is likely to be primarily focussed in urban and suburban areas that typically see high levels of gang activity anyway, as well as potentially in major port towns.

Anti-foreign attacks to recur amid COVID-19 and after opening of borders

That attacks against individuals of Asian descent were recorded in multiple countries early on in the outbreak indicates that anti-Asian sentiments are liable to persist beyond the immediate crisis, especially as multiple countries begin to question China’s handling of the crisis. This is liable to raise perceptions of a deliberate attempt by China to mismanage the pandemic, in addition to fears of Asians being carriers of the virus. Increased rhetoric by international political leaders sometimes referring to the virus as ‘Chinese virus’ is liable to further strengthen xenophobic sentiments.

This increases the likelihood of Asian-owned companies being the target of attacks, vandalism, and protests by nationalist and xenophobic groups. As quarantine restrictions ease, the risk of foreign nationals operating or residing in Europe being verbally or physically harassed is liable to persist into the medium-term. Furthermore, Asian-linked companies and enterprises may witness decreased sales due to such sentiments.

Finally, there remains a likelihood of general xenophobic sentiments persisting due to the fear of foreigners being virus carriers, as evidenced with French visitors being harrassed in the German border town of Gersheim in April. This may result in an overall decrease in intra-European travel and tourism into the medium-term, as well as travelers being subject to harassment and abuse.


Avoid nonessential travel within Europe as per government directives amid COVID-19 while remaining cognizant of local criminal activity.

Remain cognizant of possible scams and sale of counterfeit medical and hygiene supplies.

Foreign residents across Europe are advised to maintain heightened vigilance due to the elevated potential for racially motivated harassment.

Facilities that are currently non-operational due to COVID-19 restrictions are advised to take additional precautions against possible vandalism and burglaries.