Miikka Vuorela – Eurocrim 2020

The Effects of a Pandemic on Crime and Punishment – Nordic Experiences of Historical Crises

Miikka Vuorela, Helsinki University. Photo: Private.

Miikka Vuorela, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Social Sciences, Helsinki University.

Abstract of paper presented at Eurocrim 2020:
The global coronavirus pandemic has pushed societies to the verge of an uncertain future. While the economic aspects of the crisis are familiar guests, there are several new factors in the pandemic which affect criminality and the functioning of the criminal justice system in ways beyond our experiences. Especially the effects of the lockdown and curfews are a previously uncharted territory for criminologists. Initial data from authorities already show that property crimes and lethal violence have increased during the lockdown in Finland.

While waiting for or gathering useful data it is worth noting that studying historical crises reveals valuable information of the effects of crises such as famines and wars on crime and punishment. These lessons of the past can help us predict, explain and prepare for the current and upcoming crime trends. Typically, historical crises in the Nordic countries have either been times of pure economic hardship or wars. While these crises share similarities with the coronavirus pandemic, there are notable differences in both the practical circumstances and the effects on criminality.

This paper provides an overview of the effects of historical crises in the Nordic countries on crime and punishment. Additionally, these findings are used to provide analysis of the predictable effects of the coronavirus pandemic on current crime rates and the use of the criminal justice system.