File under “huh?”. Sussex Police are increasing police patrols when there is a full moon (Daily Telegraph, 6 June):
Folklore has long associated the lunar cycle with strange happenings such as the nocturnal antics of men who have turned into werewolves. But a correlation has now been identified with a worsening in human behaviour when there is a full moon and also on pay days. Inspector Andy Parr, of Sussex Police, made the connection while analysing crime statistics for the Brighton and Hove area’s “night-time economy”. […] Nine years ago a three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley jail in Leeds showed a rise in violent incident in the days either side of a full moon. Inspector Parr hopes his findings could lead to further university research which would be of use to police forces.
The relationship between a full moon and violence / etc has long been the subject of academic study. Eric Chudler’s glorious Neuroscience for Kids site (which will surely entertain and inform adults too) has a great page listing the outcomes of dozens of studies of lunar cycles and violence, suicide, depression, animal bites, accidents, drugs overdoses and emergency room calls. There’s also a nice article over at National Geographic, and some informative pages on lunar influence myths on the Skeptic’s Dictionary and Wikipedia sites, or if you want to take the academic approach, search PubMed, PsychINFO or any other reference database and you’ll find dozens of articles.
The results? There are a couple of studies in there which indicate a relationship exists (one of them presumably being the nine year old study cited in the newspaper article), but the vast majority suggest that there is no relationship between the full moon and an increase in violence (or changes in any other phenomena).
Unless something special is happening in Brighton, Sussex Police are probably wasting their time by upping patrols at a full moon. But hey, maybe there is something special about Brighton? The Telegraph article reveals that “Inspector Parr hopes his findings could lead to further university research which would be of use to police forces”. Would anyone like to help him out?