A spike in reports of anti-social behaviour in Wealden over the last year were likely linked to lockdown, councillors have heard.
According to Sussex Police figures, last year saw 75 percent increase in anti-social behaviour reports across the district, rising from 1,838 during 2019/20 to 3,222 in 2020/21. There was a particularly sharp spike between March and April 2020.
The figures were discussed at a meeting of Wealden District Council’s cabinet yesterday (Wednesday 9th June), where community and public health lead Phillip Lunn drew a link between the increase and Covid-19 restrictions. Cllr Lunn said:
The big spike was last summer when everybody was thrown into party mood, if you like.
A lot of the ASB isn’t the anti-social behaviour we have seen historically, people throwing bricks through shop windows and things like that. A lot of this was neighbour disputes because people weren’t used to being at home with neighbours on either side of them.
We have to remember that some people don’t have the luxury of a garden or outdoor space and in the heat of summer tempers fray. The trends dropped dramatically towards the end of the year, but they did go up again and they have now started to plateau.
I think we won’t know until the autumn what the real trend was and whether it was entirely as a result of us all being locked in, restricted and not being able to follow our usual behavioural patterns.
But I am pretty confident that by October time we should have a picture and hopefully put to bed the fact that it is a lockdown type spike, rather than a permanent behavioural change.Cllr Philip Lunn, Crowborough South East and Community and Public Health Portfolio Holder
Council papers say other factors being considered were the closure of businesses, meaning there were fewer opportunities for people to eat and drink out and visit places of entertainment.
Similar increases in anti-social behaviour reports have been observed nationally as well. Some sources have linked this to how breaches of coronavirus restrictions were recorded in crime statistics, although this was not mentioned in Wealden’s council papers.
While there was a rise in anti-social behaviour, the district’s overall level of crime dropped significantly in the last year.
In all 5,649 crimes were reported in the district over the whole of 2010/21, a reduction of 18.4% on the previous year and the lowest figure since 2016/17.
The main reductions have been seen in acquisitive crime, such as burglary and theft of and from vehicles, and also in criminal damage.