Covid breaches see anti-social behaviour reports rise 2,000% in Sunderland community
Breaches of Covid restrictions have sent reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB) ‘through the roof’, according to police.
Official guidelines mean that anyone suspected of breaking rules intended to stop the spread of coronavirus sees the offence recorded as ASB.
But while the figures may appear to show a significant rise, according to officers in the Coalfield area of Sunderland violent crimes, thefts and burglaries are all down compared to last year.
“Any Covid breach now goes into ASB, so I think we’re sitting at currently 2,000% up,” said Inspector Nick Gjorven.
“It’s difficult to actually wade through that to get any discernible evidence from it, although my cops on the ground tend to realise what’s real and what’s not.”
Insp Gjorven, of Northumbria Police, was speaking at last night’s (Wednesday, March 17) meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Coalfield Area Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
According to a report for the panel, it is expected to take several months for officers to ‘make any sense of the data’ they currently have on reports of adult ASB.
A ‘slight increase’ has also been noted in youth ASB, with plans to send police into schools to raise awareness of the issue.
However, bosses also accept they will have to ‘tread carefully’ on this initially to allow teachers to focus on catching pupils up with the curriculum following several months outside the classroom.
Earlier this year (January 2021) the force also relaunched Operation Avalanche targeting ‘teenage troublemakers who were tormenting their communities’.
Overall, the number of crimes in the Coalfield has fallen by almost a tenth compared to the same period last year, according to police figures, with Insp Gjorven particularly keen to highlight the drop in thefts, which he attributed to a crackdown on scrap metal vans and covert patrols.
He said: “I’d like to take a lot of the credit for that, obviously COVID has had it’s part to play in it, but we’re going to continue with that and we’re not going to take our eye off the ball because we know it’s really important to people.