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KNOWSLEY: Huge increase in anti social behaviour ‘due to covid’

KNOWSLEY: Huge increase in anti social behaviour ‘due to covid’

Twice as many incidents of anti social behaviour were recorded in Knowsley last year compared with 2019.

The huge rise was not because of an increase in anti social behaviour but due to the way covid related incidents were recorded, according to officers from Knowsley’s community safety partnership.

While reports of anti social behaviour soared, crimes such as burglary and street robberies decreased while Knowsley was in the grip of the covid pandemic.

According to a report produced for Knowsley council, crime reports across the borough fell by an overall 2% last year – the first time since 2015 a decrease was recorded.

However, speaking at a meeting of Knowsley’s sustainable borough scrutiny committee, officers from the partnership, which is made up of council officials, representatives from Merseyside Police, the probation service and housing providers, said the results were “skewed” because of how covid related offences were coded.

Knowsley Council’s head of community safety Ian Willman told councillors that just over 13,000 crimes were reported in the borough during 2019/ 2020, around 230 less than the previous year, reflecting “a lot of great work done across the partnership.”

Mr Willman added that the largest proportion of crimes recorded, over 40% were violent crimes, and while there were increases in reports of street harassment, the number of burglaries and street robberies were down.

Referring to a 50% increase in anti social behaviour recorded, Mr Willman said: “We were right in the middle of covid, and many complaints were around breaches which wouldn’t happen in other years and they were classified as anti social behaviour.

“We were dealing with something never seen before so that accounted for the large increase.”

Compared to other local authorities in the region, Knowsley’s crime rate per 10,000 people was slightly below the regional average at 88 per 10,000 compared with 112 in Liverpool and 70 in Wirral.

Cllr Crispin Evans asked representatives from the borough’s community safety partnership: “Criminal damage and arson has gone down but antisocial behaviour has gone up, how does that fit in? Is there a potential reporting issue, are we sort of maybe defining something now as anti social behaviour that could previously be criminal damage and arson offences?”

Responding, temporary superintendent for community policing Phil Mullally said: “What wasn’t covered was calls into policing that was covid related, that was recorded as anti social behaviour on a national level so you’ve got a set of data which ultimately doesn’t tell the picture, so you have to treat with caution and almost discount it if we’re honest.”

However in terms of the recording of non-covid related crimes, he added: “It’s not perfect but I am confident that when it comes to recording of crime and data we’re in a good place as a force.”

Advisory service manager for Livv Housing, Sarah Smith, said the explanation fitted with the housing provider’s experience of call rates from tenants.

She said: “From a housing point of view, we found that reports started to tail off and decrease in that period, which would fit with what was said as covid breaches rather than anti social behaviour.

“We found what came through to us was people more struggling in homes due to the pandemic rather than any increase in anti social behaviour.”

Cllr John Morgan said that many residents in his Kirkby ward had expressed concerns about anti social behaviour and asked what confidence people could have it was being tackled.

Cllr Morgan said: “In Kirkby, attacks on buses and things of that nature these are real everyday issues, you can’t be in every place all the time, but how can people feel confident them areas are being tackled?”

Temporary superintendent Mullally said: “I know it is an emotive subject.

“Lydiate lane bridge has been an issue in the borough for 10/15 years in terms of things thrown off and smashing bus windows and so on.

“Through the strength of our partnership, the bridge was secured through funding by the people who own it.  It’s secure, we’ve not had an issue there for months.

“Hopefully this reassures you to say we do take it seriously.”

Words: Lisa Rand, Local Democracy Reporter


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