Anti-social behaviour soars during lockdown

·2 min read
Anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour

Anti-social behaviour soared by almost 50 per cent during the pandemic as warring neighbours repeatedly clashed over lockdown rules, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests.

Police were called to deal with around 2 million incidents in the year to March, ranging from arguments about illegal gatherings to disputes about the wearing of face masks.

But the pressures caused by the pandemic also led to a surge in traditional anti-social behaviour with vandalism, drug taking and noise-related complaints all rising following years of decline.

Anti-social behaviour was one of the few areas of crime to rise during the pandemic, with the long periods of lockdown leading to significant drops in homicide, violence, theft and sexual offences.

But cyber criminals did exploit the pandemic with fraud and computer misuse offences soaring by 36 per cent.

Remote banking fraud was up by three quarters and almost 100,000 people reported being scammed when doing online shopping for buying from auction websites.

Reports of anti-social behaviour, which was once the scourge of many communities, has seen a steady decline over the last decade.

But data from the ONS found that there was a 48 per cent rise in the year to March and an 83 per cent rise in cases between April and June last year as the country remained in the grip of the first lockdown.

At one point government ministers told the public they had a duty to ‘snitch’ on neighbours if they witnessed them breaching Covid-19 restrictions.

When the police were called to deal with such an incident, it was officially recorded as anti-social behaviour, partly explaining the large rise.

But data collected during the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which measures people’s experiences of crime, also found that 29 per cent of adults had witnessed some form of non-Covid-related anti-social behaviour in their community.

This was thought to be down in part to the closure of schools, colleges, sports centres and other youth facilities during lockdown.

Police said they had received 194,000 calls “snitching” on people alleged to have broken the coronavirus lockdown in the first five weeks of the lockdown last spring.

In September policing minister Kit Malthouse encouraged members of the public to phone the police non-emergency number to report concerns about neighbours breaking the rule of six.

In one example, officers shut down a wedding in Golders Green, north London in April 2020 after being twice called by neighbours.

Once when they saw it being set up and later when they complained about large groups of people. The organiser was issued a fixed penalty notice.

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