The Consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic for Crime in Southwest Germany (COVID-19-KRIM)

Time period: 2021 – 2024

Description: The project investigates the short- and medium-term effects of the Covid-19-Pandemic on crime in Baden-Württemberg (southwest Germany) during 2019 to 2021, based on recorded crime data, mobility data and various socio-economic and geographic data, and employing spatio-temporal modeling. A special module focusses on domestic violence against partners and children and the hurdles facing these vulnerable victims when seeking adequate help during Pandemic times. The findings hopefully will support the work of police and victim support agencies by developing innovative analytical and visual tools and by drawing recommendations for the improvement of support strategies.

Module A: Spatio-temporal analysis of crime and human mobility during the Pandemic

From a criminological perspective, the COVID-19 Pandemic is a unique “natural experiment”. Only little is known about the details of how suddenly changing routine activities and opportunities affect the spatial and temporal pat­tern of crime. The current exceptional situation allows for stronger claims of causality regarding the impact of op­por­tunity structures on crime compared to normal times. A narrow perspective on oppor­tunities, however, would ignore the social realities of crime: social problems and factors influencing the motivations of potential perpetrators as well as their interactions with opportunities remain crucial for a deeper understanding of crime causation.

Apart from registered crime data, detailed geographic data on infrastructures and socio-economic conditions as well as anonymous mobility data are employed to model crime development during the Pandemic on different spatial levels, from regional districts to small areas within cities. This project is the first to explore the potential uses of anonymous mobility data for crime analysis in Germany.

The statistical models lead to the development of innovative GIS-based analytical and visual tools which can support police work. We will discuss together with experts and practitioners the ethical and political implications of these innovations in the context of ‘Big Data’ and ‘Smart City’.

Module B: The development of violence against partners and children

This module focusses on the development of domestic violence against partners and children and the related victim support work. We analyse available incidence data from police and victim support organizations and conduct semi-structed interviews with experts and practitioners from various victim support and youth welfare organisations. The qualitative information will give more insights into the consequences of the Pandemic for their difficult work and possible changes in the quantity and quality of domestic violence. We aim at enhancing the knowledge about factors influencing domestic violence and drafting concrete recommendations for prevention and support strategies in this field.

The Projects receives funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Research Team: Dietrich Oberwittler (PI), Gunda Wössner (PI), Natalie Gehringer, Carina Hasitzka

Contact: Dietrich Oberwittler (, Gunda Wössner (