Lockdown breaches cause rise in anti-social behaviour reports across the borough

Michael Scott

Reporter:

Michael Scott

Email:

michael.scott@ulstergazette.co.uk

AN increase in anti-social behaviour incidents in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough has been blamed on people breaching lockdown restrictions.

The latest figures released by the police have shown a big increase.

In fact, according to PSNI figures released recently, they have gone up by over 500 compared to the same time last year.

The increase is not unique to the ABC borough – in fact all of Northern Ireland's policing districts have noted an increase in the 12 months to June 30, 2020 compared to the previous 12 months.

According to the figures a total of 6,535 incidents were recorded in the ABC borough, up by 519 on the 2018-19 figure of 6,016 – an increase of 8.6%.

And while the figures are by no means the worst – there were over 1,775 more incidents across Belfast's four policing districts with 772 of those in North Belfast alone, while in Ards and North Down and in Antrim and Newtownabbey there were increases of 942 and 930 respectively – the figures have still caused concern.

One councillor believes that COVID-19, and members of the public reporting people breaching restrictions, may have played a part in the jump.

DUP Alderman Gareth Wilson stated, “I am aware that anti-social behaviour has seen a rise and I understand that this is in part due to how such incidents have been categorised in recent months.

“If members of the public have observed people not adhering to the various COVID-19 restrictions, they have been able to contact Police and these incidents have been recorded as anti-social behaviour type statistics.

“That would in part explain the rise in stats however there have also been incidents where anti-social behaviour has taken place in the more normal categorisation of the term and police have been dealing with these routinely.”

Cllr Wilson’s comments have been backed up by another figure within the report which shows that there has been a 50% increase in anti-social behaviour reports in the period between April-June 2019 and April-June 2020. In the first three months of the financial year in 2020 there were 2,404 anti-social behaviour reports, compared to 1,599 over the same three-month period in 2019 - a jump of 805.

The PSNI’s report explains: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown measures were introduced in Northern Ireland on March 23 and these have had a substantial impact on levels of anti-social behaviour.

“From March 27, 2020 calls received by the police were able to have codes applied that indicated the call was related to Covid-19. This section has been temporarily added to the monthly update to allow the monitoring of levels of anti-social behaviour since lockdown.

“The report shows the total number of anti-social behaviour incidents each week in Northern Ireland since Monday, January 6 2020, and the number of anti-social behaviour incidents excluding those given a Covid-19 code.

“Both data series follow a similar pattern, except for the three week period between April 6-26. The gap between the two data series has been narrowing in recent weeks.”

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